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The lightly raced DONLADD (NAP) has made a good start in handicaps and is taken to get off the mark. Oliver Greenall’s pair Ace Ventura (second choice) and Fort De L’Ocean are a couple of possible threats, while Shaws Bridge is unexposed now debuting for a yard which has won this race before.
Tico Times ought to go well on the back of his Sedgefield success, but preference is for BIRD ON THE WIRE. He ran a cracker when second on his Catterick handicap hurdle debut last month and his point background suggests he can build on that now switching to fences. Fellow chase newcomers Holme Abbey and Just Don’t Know are also on the shortlist.
There’s not much strength in depth to this novice hurdle and it’s likely to be dominated by the two penalised runners. Wetlands has been reliable thus far, never finishing out of the first four and winning his last two races, but conceding 6lbs to KARL PHILIPPE could be a tough task if that one can put behind him a poor run when favourite for the EBF Final at Sandown. Large Action may prove best of the remainder.
Several runners are dropping back in grade, including MINT GOLD who remains open to further progress at this sort of trip and may be the answer. Second choice is Some Reign, who has sound claims on his autumn form. Market confidence behind Licklighter should be heeded.
Stuart Crawford’s mares Hidden Dilemma and Sketrick are interesting for different reasons and should be watched closely in the market, but the most compelling claims are held by two last-time-out winners at the top of the weights.
Storm Nelson has taken off since joining Sandy Thomson and may well complete the hat-trick, but BALI BODY is completely unexposed as he moves into handicaps and gets the nod.
In an open race in which most can be given a chance of sorts, the suggestion is COOKING FAT, who could be ready to strike after two encouraging runs over hurdles. The main threat could come from Kalaharry, another runner who seems to be building up to something. Kayf Adventure and Do Wanna Know are others to consider.
Solid recent form is decidedly thin on the ground in an uncompetitive race despite the numbers. The most appealing option is ARTIC QUEST, whose fourth over course and distance last month is already working out well.
Topweight Ballydonagh Boy has a chance back over hurdles for an in-form yard and could be the main danger, while Court Glory has fallen in the weights and may have been refreshed by a break.
Preference is for BONNY HOUXTY, who doesn’t have many miles on the clock and shaped well on this course after a year off. Lissen To The Lady showed some improvement last time and is another with a chance.
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