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Flash Collonges should still have more to offer, but MALINELLO looks the one to beat – setting the standard after two good runs this season. Fishkhov is an interesting contender who looks open to major improvement.
Ginger Du Val is a relative unknown quantity and Leylak looks a big threat with his age allowance, but ON TO VICTORY should prove hard to beat if he can cut out the mistakes. He was in the process of showing very smart form when coming down late on at Kempton and he had jumped soundly up until that point.
Easy Bucks should appreciate the ground if it is good to soft. Lex Talionis also appeared to suffer as a result of the going last time and can again show up well if it remains less testing. However, EDE’IFFS ELTON won with authority last time and on that evidence, he looks capable of defying a 9lb rise to follow up.
Several here should do better over hurdles, including joint topweights Sizable Sam and TAKE YOUR TIME. Neither was fluent last time, but that didn’t stop them improving and the latter, who was beaten as a result of his jumping, could have more scope if getting it right. Thunderstruck is interesting back over hurdles, while Oneupmanship and Keep Rolling are respected.
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Messire Des Obeaux evidently retains plenty of ability despite missing a large chunk of his career, and it will be very interesting to see whether he can build on last month’s course and distance success. However, it’s difficult to oppose PROTEKTORAT, who is top rated and seems sure to continue on an upward curve for the powerful Skeltons. Lieutenant Rocco, though a useful sort, has the worst chance on the figures.
Up-and-coming six-year-old Evander produced a good performance at Doncaster last month and is respected but he might find it tougher to dominate this stronger field and preference is for CAPELAND, who is well suited by this track and didn’t run badly at Cheltenham last month. Two For Gold can be excused his run in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November and is next on the list, ahead of last year’s winner Gala Ball.
This drop in trip/grade can enable AMBION HILL (NAP) to open his account. Second choice is Anightinlambourn, who looks a similar type to the selection. Others for the shortlist are Baignard and Blazing Saddles. Market support for Argus should be noted on his return from a layoff.
Preference is for GLAJOU, who by no means took a backward step when found wanting under his penalty at Taunton and is a scopey five-year-old with further progress in him. Gardefort is not as good as he was, but a repeat of his latest second at Ascot off the very same mark will see him bang there, and last year’s winner Molineaux has sound claims once more.
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