Pobbles Bay has done most of his racing over fences in recent seasons, but he showed himself to be no slouch over the smaller obstacles when second on his return at Uttoxeter last month. There, he produced a career-best in this sphere to be beaten less than three lengths in what looked a strong heat (first three pulled clear of two recent winners).
The handicapper certainly hasn’t taken any chances, with Pobbles Bay now having an extra 4 lb on his back, but he has won from even higher marks than this over fences, and the drop in grade here looks to present him with an excellent opportunity to get back to winning ways – at the scene of his most recent chase win in April.
Evan Williams is fancied to bring up his double at Ffos Las in the finale, with On The Quiet likely to take plenty of beating if building on the promise of her latest third at Bangor. Patiently ridden on that occasion, she was initially left behind by the first two as the pace lifted on the home turn, but it was notable how strongly she finished on the run-in, keeping on well under a hands-and-heels ride to nearly get up for second.
That effort continued her record of run-to-run progression, and, still relatively lightly raced in the context of this race, it would be no surprise if she had, even more, to offer, especially now switching to handicaps.
Shut The Box cemented a positive start to his hurdling career when opening his account at Plumpton in March, racing freely through the first half of the contest but still finding plenty where it mattered to get the verdict by two and a quarter lengths.
Possibly stretched by the longer trip when only third on his reappearance at Fontwell, this exuberant sort appeals as just the sort to be well suited by a strongly-run race back at two miles, which he should get here with the freewheeling Totterdown in opposition.
The switch to handicaps is also expected to bring about some improvement, and his opening mark of 125 looks one Shut The Box can take advantage of sooner rather than later.