Fiddlerontheroof won a bumper at Navan last season and, having switched to the Colin Tizzard yard, shaped most promisingly on his hurdles debut in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow last month. He was held only by a top prospect in Thyme Hill and he will prove difficult to beat here if running to a similar level.
Keep Moving would have gone close but for departing at the second-last on his return to action at Exeter last month and can gain compensation here. He’s not been the most consistent over fences but ended last season on the up, seeing things out thoroughly to win off a 5lb lower mark at Chepstow, and should remain competitive.
Danse Idol didn’t need to be at her best when taking advantage of a good opportunity at Fontwell on her final start last term, but has some strong form to her name and reappears here on a fair-looking mark. Paul Nicholls’ mare held her own well in good company last season, finishing runner-up in two listed events and a Grade 2, and may have been underestimated by the assessor on her handicap hurdle debut.
Reserve Tank signed off for the season with Grade 1 successes at Aintree and Punchestown and shaped with plenty of promise on his chase debut at Chepstow on his reappearance last month. He duly went like the best prospect in the race, but didn’t appear fit enough to hammer it home and finished runner-up to Jarveys Plate. He was easily the best of these over hurdles and is the one to beat now sharpened up.
Fusil Raffles looked an exciting prospect when winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on his first start for Nicky Henderson and he followed it up with victory in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at Punchestown after being forced to miss Cheltenham through injury. The four-year-old is a high-class prospect and should prove difficult to beat.
White Moon showed useful form during his novice chase campaign and was in the process of showing improved form at this course last month when coming down at the last. He looked the likely winner at the time of his departure and still looks fairly handicapped despite going up 5lb in the weights. He could yet do better over fences and there is more to come.
The only two horses who have raced under Rules make little appeal, so it is worth siding with a newcomer. Paul Nicholls has won this race three times in the last seven runnings, so his representative Confirmation Bias must be respected. Dan Skelton’s horses are in good form so White Walker also makes appeal in a race where any market movement could prove informative.
12:40 – Fiddlerontheroof
13:15 – Keep Moving
13:50 – Danse Idol
14:25 – Reserve Tank
15:00 – Fusil Raffles
15:35 – White Moon
16:10 – Confirmation Bias