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Some useful horses contest this seller, but it’s not easy to predict which ones will run to form. NIBLAWI hasn’t run over hurdles for a while, but he returned from a long absence with two useful performances on the Flat this autumn and evidently retains a huge chuck of his old ability. He gets the nod ahead of Mr Caffrey, who won in this grade recently.
This can provide some compensation for ONE TRUE KING‘s valiant second at Cheltenham, where he was overtaken by three rivals after making the running but rallied in tremendous style to nearly snatch the lead back. He has less to prove than the talented Mr Grey Sky, though that one is likely to provide the biggest threat. Elysian Flame has queries about him for now, but could yet make up into a smart hurdler.
De Barley Basket is ahead of the handicapper after his clear win at Taunton a week ago but slight preference is for AGENT VALDEZ, who ran a big race when placed over course and distance on last month’s chasing debut and can do even better if avoiding jumping errors this time. Blue N Yellow and Lord Sparky also make the shortlist.
In a competitive race for the grade the pick is Irish point winner A DISTANT PLACE (NAP), who went close over 2m on just his second start under rules and has considerable potential for further improvement over today’s longer trip on his handicap debut.
Gortroe Joe got back in the groove with a Sandown win last month and remains very well handicapped on older form. C&D winner Trans Express is 2lb well in after a good recent effort at Exeter, while Known and Irish Odyssey both have low-mileage and are also of interest.
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Hunny Moon showed more than enough in bumpers to suggest she can pose a threat on today’s hurdle debut, while Found On ran well at Southwell three weeks ago and should also feature. However, Nicky Henderson’s well-bred mare FANTASTIC LADY might well be good enough to make a winning debut.
Go As You Please has taken well to chasing this season and ought to be right in the thick of things but another chance is given to BEET TOPPER, who failed to justify strong market support on his recent stable debut at Hereford but still ran well for a long way. If he settles better in a first-time hood here, he ought to be much stronger at the business end this time. Relkadam and Khairagash also have claims.
Dylan’s Sea Song comes here after gaining her breakthrough win at Southwell last month and has some potential for further progress but, with today’s slower ground not certain to suit, preference is for last year’s runner-up BROKE AWAY.
Alexandra Dunn’s eight-year-old opened her account at Wincanton in February and last month’s reappearance run ought to have done her good. Useful Flat-racer Jedhi makes her handicap hurdle debut here and also looks interesting.
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