Haafapiece ended last season on a high, winning handicap hurdles at Huntingdon and Fakenham, and he would have gone close to completing the hat-trick on his return over this course and distance last month had he not made mistakes at the final two flights. He travelled strongly and held every chance before blundering at the second-last, but the smooth headway he made indicated that he is on a competitive mark at present. The winner has since followed up, giving the form a boost, so Haafapiece looks a leading player. Ilaya represents Micky Hammond – the trainer who won this race last year with Cornerstone Lad – and is one to consider at a big price having offered some encouragement over course and distance last time.
Miah Grace displayed promise when placed in two bumpers in 2018/19 and she progressed well over hurdles last season, winning on three occasions, including on her final outing of the campaign at Doncaster. Miah Grace made little impact on her reappearance over two miles here last month, but that outing should have blown away the cobwebs and she could be a different proposition with the run under her belt. The step up in trip also promises to suit based on how well she saw out her races last season and she is expected to give a good account. The chief danger could be Mario de Pail, another lightly-raced type who also shaped as if he’d come on for his recent reappearance.
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Guitar Pete is rising 11 and there’s a chance he’s simply not the force of old, but he has an excellent record over this course and distance so could be worth chancing in a contest that is weaker than the races he usually tackles. Guitar Pete has raced over this course and distance on three occasions and he has won twice and finished runner-up the other time. He won here on his reappearance last year – from a 4 lb lower mark – and it is likely that he will be fit enough to do himself justice on his return. One of the chief threats could be Schiehallion Munro, who won three of his four starts last season and shaped better than the result would suggest on his return over course and distance last month, paying the price for doing too much too soon.
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