Home Before Dusk has recorded all four of his wins at this track, so he clearly has an affinity for it, and the step back up to a mile and a quarter won’t be a problem, so there is plenty to like about his chances.
However, in the shape of Big Daddy Kane he faces a younger horse who is at the opposite end of the handicapping spectrum. He has shaped well on all three of his starts in minor events on the all-weather this year, showing his best form when runner-up to a potentially smart type at Wolverhampton last time, and he may have been let in lightly on handicap debut.
Rocco confirmed the impression of his chasing debut – in the process of running well when falling at the last – when opening his account in this sphere back under regular rider Sam Twiston-Davies at Stratford last month. He jumped much more fluently on that occasion, too, disputing the lead before going on two fences from home and asserting approaching the last.
A subsequent 6lb rise in the weights looks more than fair, and he has the scope to go on improving for a while in this sphere.
Gracious John is a much better performer on the all-weather, but due to a recent stint of running below form, he now gets to run off a mark 11lb lower than when last contesting a handicap on a synthetic surface. He seems to have been around forever, but he is still only a six-year-old, and this will be just his fourth start for Ian Williams. An outside draw in stall 12 isn’t as bad as it seems at this course and it would be no surprise were Gracious John to fare much better now after a short break.
*Prices correct at time of publishing