A competitive 2m handicap hurdle to open the card, with preference for COSMEAPOLITAN, who won over C&D as a juvenile and still has potential now returned to hurdles from the Flat.
He was out of form when last seen on the level in the spring, but his mark over hurdles is potentially lenient based on his Flat form and he could be worth chancing with the Alan King team in good form.
Kerry Lee’s Magic Dancer, who has undergone a wind operation, could prove the biggest danger.
It could be worth chancing KATAHDIN on his hurdling debut and first start for trainer Colin Tizzard. He was a fairly useful winner in bumpers for Lydia Pearce in the 2017/18 season and has the physical scope to do well over jumps. His absence since is a slight concern, but he starts out for a yard that know the time of day. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the market.
Of those with form over hurdles, Sir Valentine sets the standard. He was in the process of running well when falling on his hurdling debut at Chepstow last month.
This looks a cracking 2m 6f beginners’ chase, with Beakstown setting a useful standard on his chase debut second to asubsequent winner Sam Spinner at Wetherby last time. However, the presence of CHAMP gives this race a different complexion, and he is hard to get away from based on his hurdles form.
A winner of five of his six starts over hurdles last season, which included the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, he looks a smashing prospect for fences this season, and has reportedly been schooling well at Nicky Henderson’s in the lead up to this. The type to go right to the very top in the novice chase division this season, it will be disappointing if he isn’t able to make a winning start here.
This looks a match between recent winners SILVER FOREVER and Floressa, who standout on what they both achieved last time, but preference is for the former, who is open to significant improvement.
A dual bumper winner last season – when also twice placed in Listed events – she looked a good prospect after seven months off at Chepstow last month, travelling strongly and quickening clear in smart fashion to win with plenty in hand.
There is plenty of stamina in her pedigree, but she doesn’t look short on speed either, and is expected to make it two from two over hurdles now.
Hasn’t been with the Nicky Henderson yard long, but has won two of his three starts (all over fences) and he will be well treated back over hurdles if able to translate that form back to the smaller obstacles.
This looks competitive, however, and cases can be made for Geordie B and Gunfleet, while Any Drama wouldn’t be out of it either if returning from another absence at the top of his game.
Dan Skelton’s runner bettered his form over hurdles at the first attempt when making a winning debut in this sphere at Hereford around this time last year. He remains with potential over fences. The form of his third-place finish on his final start at Taunton – where he reportedly finished lame – has worked out well. Both the first and second (Ballywood and Capeland) now smart performers.
There should be more races to be won with Amoola Gold from a mark in the 120s.
This is usually a decent bumper and Alan King’s MAJOR DUNDEE can confirm himself a very good prospect with another victory. He showed a tremendous turn of foot when making a winning debut at Southwell in the spring and has since been purchased by Trevor Hemmings. Force Ten and Cadzand are among a host of appealing newcomers to Rules.