13:10 – TOUCHTHESOUL @ 15/8
Offered plenty to work on when fourth in a listed event at Kempton two weeks ago, belying his big odds to be beaten only four and a half lengths. There didn’t appear to be any fluke about that performance – form that is far superior to anything his 12 rivals here have achieved – and his scope for further improvement identifies him as the clear one to beat.
13:40 – PENNY MALLOW @ 9/2
She showed plenty of ability in bumpers and is fancied to open her hurdling account at the first time of asking here in a race lacking depth. A winner at Fakenham in February, she shaped better than the bare result when last seen at Cheltenham in April, possibly racing closer to the strong gallop than ideal. That form could hardly have worked out better, with the second and third both making winning starts to their hurdling career subsequently (fourth also won a bumper), and Penny Mallow looks a good bet to follow suit here for Venetia Williams, who has enjoyed plenty of success with other members of this family over the years.
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14:10 – MAB DAB @ 9/2
Proved that he retains plenty of ability when fourth at this venue last time, disputing the lead three out before his 18-month absence possibly began to tell in the closing stages. Linda Jewell’s charge switches to fences here on a potentially lenient mark judged on the pick of his hurdles form (won from 4 lb higher in April 2018), and he is fancied to show the benefit of his return with a big run if taking to the larger obstacles, with the longer trip holding no fears for him, either.
14:40 – ACEY MILAN @ 10/3
He is yet to scale the heights over hurdles that his smart bumper career promised, but it’s still too early to write him off, with a race of this nature likely to prove well within his range if putting it all together. There were signs that that was starting to happen during the second half of the last campaign, notably when third in a competitive handicap at Uttoxeter, and the wind operation he underwent during the summer could be just what the doctor ordered for a five-year-old who looks potentially very well treated on a BHA mark of 125.
15:10 – SHINTORI @ 2/1
He isn’t entirely straightforward (often finds little), but there was plenty to like about his victory when last seen at Fontwell in March, always doing enough to get the verdict by three quarters of a length. A 7 lb higher mark makes life tougher here, especially as he carries the welter-burden of 12-5, but he has winning form over C&D and his way of going could ensure that he stays ahead of the handicapper for a while longer yet, still relatively low mileage as a chaser after all.
15:40 – POUCOR @ 10/3
He’s the way to go here in an open heat. He wasn’t beaten far when fourth on his handicap debut at Taunton in March and wouldn’t need to improve much on that form to play a leading role from 2 lb lower here, with plenty of encouragement to be taken from his second on the level at Yarmouth recently.
16:10 – O’RAHILLY @ 11/4
Produced a career-best when fourth on his handicap bow here two weeks ago, making headway after two out and ultimately never nearer than the four and a quarter lengths he was beaten at the finish. The seven-year-old may yet have even more to offer after only four starts over hurdles, especially now back up in trip, and he is likely to find few better opportunities than this to get off the mark, a finale where very few can be backed with total confidence.
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