WIDE RECEIVER showed improved form when third in a Grade 3 at this course last time, staying on well to be beaten only two and a quarter lengths. His strength at the finish suggests he’ll be suited by stepping back up to two and a half miles, so this looks an excellent opportunity for him to open his account over hurdles at the third attempt.
FAROUK D’ALENE maintained his unbeaten record under Rules when making a successful hurdling debut at Down Royal last month, making all to win by eight lengths with plenty in hand. He looks to have a bright future and is fancied to take the step up in grade in his stride here, representing the Gordon Elliott yard that has won five of the last 10 renewals of this race.
COURTING VICKIE wasn’t seen to best effect when fifth over an insufficient trip at Cork last time, putting in some good late work but never able to get on terms. That wasn’t the first time she has caught the eye since switching to handicaps, and she remains open to more improvement now faced with a more suitable test of stamina. She is one to be interested in from a mark of 84.
ELITE TROOPER GREY has taken his form to another level since making the transition to handicaps, getting off the mark at Cork and then improving again to finish third from 12 lb higher over this course and distance. He can race from the same mark this time and should continue to give a good account, with further improvement also not out of the question.
BLACKBOW failed to win any of his four starts over hurdles, but he still showed himself to be capable of useful form. A winning pointer, he has the physique to make a better chaser and is fancied to open his account at the first attempt in a beginners’ chase which trainer Willie Mullins has often targeted with a good horse (Vautour, Douvan, Min and Al Boum Photo all feature on the recent roll of honour).
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MINELLA INDO developed into a high-class novice chaser last season, notably finishing second in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival. An impressive winner on his reappearance at Wexford, he brings much the strongest form credentials into this Grade 2 and can win again on his way to bigger and better things. He is potentially a top-class staying chaser.
WALK ME HOME was in the process of running well when unseating her rider at the last over this course and distance two weeks ago, still holding every chance at the time. She remains relatively unexposed over staying trips and is well worth another chance to prove herself on a fair mark.
MARE QUIMBY overcame inexperience to make a winning debut in a bumper at Punchestown last month, always doing enough to win despite wandering in the final furlong. Admittedly, the bare form of that effort gives her a bit to find with the other principals here, but she should have more to offer as she gains in experience, so it will be no surprise if she proves equal to the task.
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