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We kick off with a fascinating mares race at Wincanton and it’s no surprise that Nicky Henderson’s Sunrise Ruby is near the top of the marker here as the top trainer is operating at about a 30% strike rate at the moment. This is a good little contest with smart mares turning up though, none more so than Paul Nicholls Cheltenham festival winner Eglantine Du Seuil.
She sprang a surprise winning at the festival last year at 50/1 and ran a really good race in a very competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival this year, so she still retains plenty of ability and with a good 5lb claimer on board, she has to be respected after a wind op.
IT’S PROBABLY ME is of interest here too, she is only five years old and could well be still improving. She ran a very good race behind Marie’s Rock in a decent contest at Taunton and won at Doncaster on heavy ground. She has a featherweight on her back in the form of Richard Patrick and has to be of interest, that’s why she is the one who gets the nod.
GRAND SANCY won very easily at Chepstow over a similar trip and he nearly sprung a huge shock here last year, when he ran such a great race against Fusil Raffles in the Elite Hurdle. He is an experienced novice and that will help as he is giving 14lb s to Ga Law. This four-year-old won nicely at Fontwell and Exeter. If there is any flaw in Grand Sancy, he will take advantage.
Call Me Lord won the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last season beating Chtibello, but Chtibello is 10lbs better off here – with that, it should be more than enough to turnaround the length-and-a-half difference that separated them last time out. He ran a hell of a race in the Grade One over course and distance behind Supasundae on soft ground last year with Summerville Boy behind and that makes me want to take a chance on Dan Skelton‘s horse at a decent price.
Solo looked the real deal when running away with the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in February, but disappointed in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He is a huge horse who I have no doubt will be better when he goes chasing. Whether he will be able to give some of his rivals weight in this contest will decide where he runs for the rest of the season.
Master Debonair looks like he excelled in slow run races last season and finished well beaten third when stepped up in trip. The slower they go the better his chance as his jumping is a little suspect. Diego du Charmil has had a run and so has SCEAU ROYAL.
Sceau Royal is probably better known as a chaser these days, but he ran away with the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and beat a good yardstick in the process. He also won this race four years ago. He got beat when favourite in the Kingwell Hurdle by Grand Sancy last year when they hacked around. Sceau Royal could do with them going a gallop, if they don’t Solo May take advantage.
This is the Badger Beer Handicap Chase and previous double winner Present Man is back for more. The ground is ideal for him and he is on the back of a game win in the Veteran Chase at Chepstow. Danny Whizzbang was very disappointing in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot and he has had a wind op.
He has no experience of a race like this and can race a little keen. He is a good jumper, but his lack of runs is a worry. JUST A STING is one I really like here. He was fourth in last year’s race and comes in off a similar mark with a very good record fresh.
The other one of note is Kitty’s Light. He gets 10lbs offas a 4yo and won nicely at Exeter, so comes here in great form. Kitty’s Light and Just a Sting are the two to watch, but Just A Sting gets the nod just.
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