It feels like the better jumping is starting to warm up now the rain has come – and Dan Skelton has been warming up his team at home. He looks to have found a nice opportunity in this one. Eyren won at Doncaster first time up but disappointed up in grade at Aintree.
But Time is Honey ran a nice race on her first run over hurdles last Boxing Day at Rasen. That form has worked out well and she is the selection for Nick Kent and Charlie Hammond.
The 4pm is a really competitive handicap hurdle with Gumball returning over hurdles after a 134-day layoff since being beaten at Newmarket on the flat. Let’s not forget he beat the Scottish champion hurdle winner Verdana Blue at Kempton.
Azzuri was aggressively ridden at Galway in the plate and will be better back in trip here, while Scarlet Dragon has been a good servant for Henry Ponsonby. He has only had 5 runs over hurdles but he has done really well on the flat. My rule of thumb of adding 45 lbs to a horses flat rating to have an idea of a horses capability over jumps means this lad could have improvement in him, as he is 12lb below that.
Gordon Elliot has three in this beginners’ chase and Timiyan is the one that catches the eye. The record says he is 0-12 over fences but he has won a chase at Kilbeggan and was Disqualified due to a positive sample.
The Caddy Rose is interesting for the future but has a little to find on ratings. So Lever Du Soleil, getting the weight from the older horses as a 4-year-old, could be the answer with Jonathan Moore in his role as stable jockey to Gavin Cromwell.
Megalomaniac has impressive form figures having won three of his last four races but this is his toughest test to date.
Mrs Lovett has the assistance of Daryl Jacob and she was unlucky when falling at Kilbeggan at the last when holing every chance. She finished behind The Big Lense last time and that horse again opposes here.
The Big Lense finished second to Megalomaniac previously and enjoys a huge pull in the weights for that 3-and-3/4-length beating. Consequently, The Big Lense gets the nod for Luke Dempsey and Gordon Elliot.