She showed enough on her hurdling debut to suggest she’s capable of winning a race of this nature. Admittedly, she went backwards from that encouraging start at Musselburgh last time, but this race doesn’t look strong and she gets the nod to make a successful return at the expense of Aurora Thunder, who may yet do better.
Elle Est Grande is a big imposing sort who should have benefited from her initial experience over timber and is also in the mix.
Ebony Jewel failed to make an impact in a Grade 2 Aintree bumper in April, but he showed enough prior to that to suggest that he’ll be a major force at this level now tackling hurdles, and he can make a winning start here. The bumper Order of Thistle won at Sedgefield probably wasn’t the strongest of races, but he did the job well and is one to consider now hurdling, while Witness Protection and Taking Flight also merit respect.
A fair maiden for Kim Bailey last season, Chateau Robin shaped well on his first start for a new yard after 13 months off when beaten a neck in a handicap at Perth. He travelled well on that occasion, only headed in the final 100 yards and pulled clear of the remainder.
The handicapper was also impressed by that performance, raising him 10 lb in the weights since, but there could be more to come now and he makes plenty of appeal. Chase debutant Ettila de Sivola is feared most.
A case can be made for a few of these but the most persuasive one is for ORIONINVERNESS, who hails from a yard among the winners and should step up on his recent Hexham second over this longer trip. Asking For Answers has only his second run over fences but should not be underestimated off a lenient mark if his jumping holds up, while No No Mac appeals most of the three Ian Duncan runners.
The market will likely reveal more but this looks a good opportunity for RIGHTDOWNTHEMIDDLE, who lost his way for Sean Curran, but has since rejoined Gordon Elliott and figures on a handy mark. Now 25 lb lower than his last winning mark, he could make a mockery of these if ready to go on his first run for 145 days. Farlam King and Jessiemac look best of the others.
Nicky Richards does particularly well in this sphere and LEGAL BEAGLE makes plenty of appeal on paper. A half-brother to the smart bumper winner/useful 2¾m hurdle winner Carefully Selected and bumper winner Midnight Run, he is bred to be useful, and it will be interesting to see what the market makes of his chances. Mr Caplan and Dusty’s Choice are others to note on pedigree.