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This uncompetitive novice hurdle might go to MERCUTIO ROCK, who made a promising bumper debut here last month. Gold Link was tired and well beaten when third on his hurdling debut at Newton Abbot three weeks ago, but he ran well to a point there and ought to have more to offer. Calvario made a rather disappointing seasonal/hurdle debut, but his fourth in a good Newbury bumper in January makes him of interest.
Chooseyourweapon, I Can’t Explain and Mr One More all looked very promising a few years ago, but they are using this race to relaunch their careers after mammoth absences and the safest option is ANTUNES – who comes here after posting a good effort in defeat on last month’s chasing debut. Lieutenant Rocco would appeal more over a longer trip, but he looked useful in novice hurdles for Colin Tizzard last season.
No No Juliet ran well on her final start for Oliver Sherwood in March and it will be interesting to see what Fergal O’Brien can do with her this season, but KAPGA DE LILY (NAP) drew nicely clear to score over 2m 4f at Bangor last month and could easily have more to offer over today’s longer trip. Ballybough Nora is next on the list.
Cyclop ran his rivals ragged in a recent chase here and is tempting off his 5lb lower hurdle mark, but unexposed six-year-old PIGGY WINKLE might have had a bit left in the tank when winning at Market Rasen two weeks ago and is preferred. Progressive four-year-old Innerpickle benefits from Kieren Buckley’s useful 7lb claim here and also features prominently in calculations.
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It’s easy to make a strong case for Enzo D’Airy, who is ahead of the handicapper after winning on his recent chase debut at Stratford. But, an interesting alternative is lightly raced six-year-old ECLAIR D’AINAY.
He made the frame in a good Newbury novice hurdle on his British debut two years ago and returned from a long absence with another promising effort last month. Dan Skelton is evidently keen to switch him to fences for today’s handicap debut. Faustinovick is also open to improvement.
Champagne Rhythm ran well on his recent hurdle debut at Ffos Las. Meanwhile, Franco D’Aunou can probably better the form he showed when fourth on his British debut at Hereford. However, the one to beat is CHAMPAGNESUPEROVER, who looked useful in bumpers last season.
Olly Murphy’s five-year-old lost out to one with a better turn of foot when a beaten odds-on favourite over 2m at Stratford three weeks ago, but the increased emphasis on stamina here ought to show him to much better effect.
It’s hard to get away from low-mileage four-year-old SEXY LOT, who won easily under a confident ride at Ffos Las recently and runs again off the same mark today. Frisco Bay was second over 2m7f on last month’s handicap debut and may benefit from today’s drop back in trip. Made For You and Mere Anarchy should also feature.
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