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Durouyn is ahead of the handicapper after a good recent effort at Sedgefield, but it might pay to give another chance to DARKSIDEOFTARNSIDE – who won quite comfortably on his handicap debut in November.
Neil Mulholland’s six-year-old was beaten under a penalty a few days later but that run may have come too soon and, if judged on his Flat form, he could still be on a very good hurdle mark. Aheadfullofdreams is open to further improvement and is next on the list, ahead of Coachella Green.
This is a tight call between the two leading contenders in Bourbon Beauty and HUNNY MOON. The former is strongly respected under a penalty for her brave win at Kelso, but preference is for Fergal O’Brien’s bumper winner.
She made a promising start over hurdles with her clear second in similar conditions at Leicester four weeks ago. Another to keep an eye on is point winner Trump Lady, who shaped with promise in a Ludlow novice last time and is open to further progress.
Clondaw Storm ran well in defeat at Lingfield last month and is respected, but preference is for ex-pointer LIGHT FLICKER. He was one of two to pull nicely clear of the others when scoring at Wetherby 26 days ago and remains unexposed under rules. Ben Brody and Khairagash are others for the shortlist.
Inevitably some of these veterans have a bit to prove regarding their wellbeing but AUBUSSON, though prone to the odd off day himself, looked to be enjoying himself when winning at Lingfield and has less to prove at 3m than the reopposing Vicenzo Mio – who has left it late to tackle this trip for the first time. Alberto’s Dream and The Fresh Prince are others to consider.
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Mr Washington has been cherry-picking minor races at up to 3m and though he is far from done with from a handicapping aspect, he does have more to prove here now he goes up again in the weights and trip.
The pick is URTHEONETHATIWANT who had his rivals in trouble a long way out in this race last year and has a pretty exemplary record over 3m and beyond on soft. Stung For Cash can be given another chance in only his second handicap though he was rather laboured on his return at Carlisle.
There are good reasons to believe that Skipping On and Away For Slates will be in the thick of things, but RINTULLA (NAP) shaped well in a race that has worked out very well on his seasonal/chasing debut in October. He could be hard to beat if the first-time blinkers have a positive effect here. Glorious Boru and Larcadio are others to consider
Getastar has claims if judged on his debut effort, while there ought to be more to come from Bowtogreatness, the most obvious answer is SHEARER. He lost out only by a head when second in an above-average Hereford bumper two months ago. Lac De Constance is the most appealing newcomer.
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