A potentially trappy opener. Saint Dalina looks the obvious starting point. She was a shade unlucky not to win on her reappearance and should go close over a trip that is likely to suit. However, also unexposed is CUL DE POULE, who could be forgiven for needing last month’s reappearance and looks interesting from this workable mark now going back up in trip. The veteran Tawseef is not ruled out.
A case can be made for most of these. Preference is for topweight POP THE CORK who was a solid fourth on his reappearance at Wetherby in a better race than this. The in-form Fort De L’Ocean is second choice, ahead of Song Of The Hunter, Courtland and Temple Man.
A warm little race and even Le Cameleon, who has plenty to find on hurdle form, can’t be ruled out with his pedigree suggesting he’ll appreciate the switch to fences. Northofthewall is the one with chasing experience and was in front when falling at the second-last fence at Aintree last time, but preference is for IMPERIAL ALCAZAR who looked a big threat before fading over 3m in a hot handicap hurdle at Haydock last month. Umbrigado is another player if taking to this new discipline.
Having bumped into classy sorts when finishing second, LORD OF KERAK and Oneupmanship look the principal players. Preference is for Lord Of Kerak, for whom the step up in trip looks a positive move. Cafe Pushkin is open to improvement and may also get involved.
There are plenty of runners but this is a weak contest and, despite revealing her hand for nought at Fontwell, JUST HENNY (nap) is taken to back up that run with a legitimate win this time. Her biggest danger could be Shallow Run, who didn’t quite get home last time and should appreciate this slightly shorter trip. Kalaya can follow them home.
A chance is taken on SOPHIE OLIVIA, who was pulled up at Ayr in October but may have needed that first outing in nearly a year. She’s on an attractive mark on her best form. The lightly raced 6yo Echo Watt retains potential now back down in grade and trip on his reappearance and he is second choice. Go Steady was in contention when unseating three out at Fontwell last time and is also respected.
The early dawdle didn’t suit NO RISK DES FLOS when fourth on last month’s hurdle debut and he gets the nod in this weaker race. Mont Segur showed plenty of promise in bumpers and is feared most on his first hurdles start. Mercutio Rock could also be in the mix.
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