A competitive handicap chase to open the card, and a chance is taken on Captain Chaos to leave behind his disappointing reappearance run at Chepstow earlier this month. He was strong in the market that day, but ran too badly to be true under more patient tactics than usual, losing touch in the back straight and not persevered with once held.
The eight-year-old is potentially well handicapped, though, and with that in mind he is selected to fare much better now. The Young Master isn’t getting any younger, but still remains feasibly treated, while Rocky’s Treasure is another to consider.
Torpillo was one of the leading juveniles last season, but improved further on his return from seven months off when running his rivals into the ground in a handicap at Chepstow this month. He is seemingly well at home when the mud is flying, could yet have more to offer and looks the one to beat on these terms.
Quel Destin won a remarkable six times last season and wasn’t disgraced in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival on his final start. He is another who should have more to offer this time, but he is entitled to come on for the run, and has to concede at least 4 lb to his rivals.
On the pick of his form, Saint Calvados’ opening mark doesn’t look too harsh and he is very interesting on his return and first run since undergoing a breathing operation. Successful in the Kingmaker as a novice, he came up short at the top level last season, but there is no doubt he is a smart performer on his day, and his exemplary record when fresh adds further confidence to his claims.
He could prove too classy for these now making his handicap debut. Knocknanuss is another with plenty of ability and is likely to put it up to the selection from the outset.
Emma Lavelle has her string in great order at present and Gunfleet makes a fair bit of appeal here back up in trip and returned to a stiffer track. He failed to justify support on his return from six months off at Stratford last time, needing the emphasis more on stamina, outpaced on the home turn and unable to get back into the race after.
This test should be more to his liking, though, and, still relatively lightly raced, he could have more to offer. Theclockisticking is interesting returned to hurdles, while top-weight Tobefair can’t be ruled out, either.
A couple of smart chasers in the shape of Ramses de Teillee and Some Chaos add a different dimension to this novice hurdle. However, both of those likely have bigger engagements down the line, so it is best to focus on The Butcher Said, who completed a four-timer when last seen at Newton Abbot in June.
He left the impression he would be suited by this longer trip on that occasion and represents an in-form yard.
Paul Nicholls’ runners have invariably been coming on for their first run so far this season, but Secret Investor looked a potentially smart recruit to fences last season, and possesses the most raw ability out of these. This looks an ideal starting point for him and he should have too much for his rivals.
Dead Right surely has more to offer in this sphere, but this is much deeper than the races he was contesting in the summer, while the gutsy Topofthecotswolds should also be on the premises.
It’s highly likely this will go to a newcomer given the yards involved.
The Newest One is closely related to high-class performer, The New One, and his half-sister also won a bumper on debut, so he could be the way to go.
Strong market support for Time Flies By or expensive point recruit Barbados Buck’s would put a different slant on things, though.