Dual bumper winner Unwin Vc produced his best effort to date over hurdles when second in a novice here in March and sets the clear standard based on that form. He still looked something of a work in progress on his last start, so could yet do better, but he should prove difficult to beat even if he only runs to a similar level. Cat Tiger found two miles at Worcester barely enough of a test, so he should be suited by the step up in trip and is rated the main danger.
Eritage was strong in the betting on his hurdles debut having won twice in bumpers but he failed to make it beyond the second flight. He was also unconvincing at the first obstacle but is worth another chance, keeping in mind the good impression he created when winning a bumper at Wincanton last April. The form of the Paul Nicholls yard is another positive.
Janika is likely to be a regular fixture in graded chases this season and is taken to get off the mark on his return to action. He ran some excellent races under big weights in well-contested handicaps last season – including when finishing runner-up in the Plate at the Cheltenham Festival – and there could be more to come from the six-year-old. God’s Own has won this race twice previously and is a big danger, as is Dolos, who won in good style at Kempton when last seen.
Commodore Barry seems the type to make a better chaser than hurdler and he created a likeable impression on his first start over fences at Ayr last May, despite being beaten at odds-on. He jumped better as the race wore on and was only edged out by a useful sort near the finish. There ought to be more to come from him and, with the Kim Bailey yard among the winners, he is taken to get off the mark over fences.
The 12-year-old Perfect Candidate was generally below his best last season, but took a step in the right direction when finishing a promising fourth at Chepstow on his return. He is a course-and-distance winner and has fallen to a low enough mark now to rank as a leading player here, particularly with the Fergal O’Brien yard in such good form. Orchardstown Cross is unexposed as a chaser and won his final two starts of last season, so is regarded as a big danger.
The form of Guardia Top’s win at Perth was given a boost when the runner-up won on his next start and she also showed improved form to register a ready victory in a handicap at Chepstow last week. She scored with enough in hand to suggest she can make light of a 7lb penalty and looks the one to beat. Bumper winner Those Tiger Feet is feared most on his first start in handicap company.
Sandy Boy missed out on completing his hat-trick in a Chepstow handicap last month, but he produced his best effort yet, going down only to a fellow progressive five-year-old with the pair clear. He has wisely been turned out before the assessor can have his say and should take plenty of beating if running to a similar level.
13:10 Unwin Vc – 11/4
13:40 Eritage – 7/4
14:10 Janika – 7/2
14:40 Commodore Barry – 15/8
15:10 Perfect Candidate – 6/1
15:40 Guardia Top – 2/1
16:15 Sandy Boy – 2/1
* All odds correct at time of posting.