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Auba Me Yang needs consideration on his stable debut, but the course and distance event in which GRUMPY CHARLEY got the better of Real Stone 16 days ago could prove the key piece of form. There’s a turnaround in the weights today, but Grumpy Charley can confirm the placings.
Colin Tizzard’s BUTTERWICK BROOK gave a very good account when second in a competitive 0-130 event at Exeter in December and, if able to replicate that performance on this left-handed track, he can overcome a 5lbs rise.
Oski threw victory away when swerving on the run-in at Taunton last time, but is earmarked as a likely danger. Big Nasty raced rather lazily when second on his latest outing and may benefit from the application of headgear here. Colonel Keating is also considered.
Most of these have something to prove on one count or another. This trip on testing ground could stretch the stamina reserves of Cap St Vincent, while Young Buck has a penalty to shoulder and it proved beyond him last time. LIES ABOUT MILAN, who ran well in both his hurdle runs last winter, could be the answer back in this sphere.
Last year’s winner HOLDBACKTHERIVER (NAP) has the cheekpieces refitted for the first time since that success and he returns here after a very encouraging run over a marathon trip at Exeter in December. He gets the vote ahead of Alminar and Western Climate. Former pointer/hunter chaser Tinkers Hill Tommy won by a wide margin here in 2018 and market support will make him of interest on this handicap chase debut.
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Top of the list in a competitive race for the grade is MISS JEANNE MOON, who followed her winning handicap debut with a good effort in defeat and remains open to further improvement. Straight Swap ran well for a long way in a strong 2m 7f event on his handicap debut and, now dropped in trip/grade, is feared most. Bean In Trouble took a step back in the right direction on his latest outing, while long-absent six-year-old Imperial Flem won his only previous hurdle start and could still be anything.
There could be more to come from strong stayer Diamond Brig, who won on soft ground on his stable debut in November and might be seen to even better effect on the heavy ground here. He cannot be opposed lightly, but GRAND TURINA has slipped to a handy mark and is selected.
Venetia Williams’ mare didn’t see out 3m 2f on her latest outing, but she still ran well and today’s trip is much more suitable. Dragonfruit and Tudors Treasure can also feature.
Richard Johnson’s mount LEBOWSKI travelled well and looked the likely winner for a long way on his British debut at Huntingdon in December, only to be pipped on the post by a Paul Nicholls-trained rival. He can gain compensation if handling today’s slower ground.
Grumpy Freya showed enough on last month’s rules debut at Exeter to suggest she can feature here, while Prime Pretender looks an interesting recruit from Irish points.
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