The Crooner could be worth chancing in a tricky heat to kick-start proceedings. Admittedly, Venetia Williams’ French recruit proved disappointing when last seen finishing down the field at Chepstow in April, but he is clearly much better than that, as he showed when hitting the frame in two previous starts for these connections.
It would be no surprise to see him take his form to another level now switching to handicaps from a lowly base. No Getaway and One More Fleurie are others who have their best days ahead of them and they complete the shortlist.
A fairly useful maiden over hurdles, STOP THE WORLD shaped encouragingly when fourth on his chasing debut at Southwell last month, jumping soundly and travelling as well as any before his lack of a recent outing seemed to tell (weakened from two out).
He certainly showed enough to suggest that there are races to be won with him in this sphere and he is one to look out for from 2lb lower here, with his useful pedigree (half-brother to the borderline smart chaser Up For Review) making him of extra interest.
Jurys Out and Paddys Runner can also have a say.
WAR LORD showed an excellent attitude to make a successful hurdling debut at Plumpton three weeks ago, finding plenty from after the last to get the verdict by a length. He was probably seen to maximum effect given how that race developed (suited by emphasis on stamina), but it would have been hard for him to make a more encouraging start to life in this sphere and he looks well up to defying a penalty.
Ask Himself and Red Nika are both similarly unexposed and could be the ones to give the selection most to do.
NO COMMENT has been highly tried in his four chase starts, with two of them coming at the Cheltenham Festival and another at Grade 1 level, and it is testament to his ability that he has acquitted himself so well, notably when fifth in the Kim Muir last time.
The eight-year-old very much caught the eye on that occasion, doing well to finish as close as he did after being left with too much to do, and he remains with potential now back in calmer waters. He is of serious interest here from a mark of 137. Dans le Vent is feared most ahead of Ballyhill, who has been given a chance by the handicapper.
THIS BREAC produced one of his better efforts when finding only one too good at Wincanton last time. He was left behind by the winner after the last but kept on well to pull clear of the rest. Admittedly, his in-and-out profile suggests he is far from certain to back that up, but many of his rivals also arrive here with something to prove, and this winning pointer may not need to improve on that form to gain an overdue success under Rules.
Brigadier Bob had been in good heart prior to flopping at Uttoxeter last time and looks best of the rest if bouncing back, while the veteran Midnight Mustang shouldn’t be underestimated, either.
Still only a three-year-old, HEN produced an accomplished performance to get off the mark when switched to handicaps at Uttoxeter last month, making the most of her big age allowance to record a ready success.
She has since joined Warren Greatrex and appeals as the type who could run up a sequence in the coming weeks (also entered at Taunton on Thursday), with the style of her latest win more than justifying an 8lb rise in the weights. The hat-trick seeking Magen’s Moon and Gino Wotimean are others to note in a fascinating finale.
*Prices correct at time of posting