Floressa did well in bumpers in the spring and quickly reached a useful level over hurdles, winning easily at Worcester before being narrowly defeated by Silver Forever over course and distance recently.
Nicky Henderson’s filly meets Silver Forever on 3lb better terms here and may be capable of turning the tables in what looks likely to be a two-horse race.
Reserve Tank signed off last season with victories in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, and he shaped with plenty of promise on his chase debut at Chepstow last month, going like the best prospect in the race but not being fit enough to hammer it home.
He built on that encouraging performance when landing the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase at Wincanton three weeks ago and is taken to defy a penalty with ease.
Jerrysback failed to stay in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest start but he is a smart chaser and has twice finished runner-up at Grade 2 level. He looks fairly treated on his handicap debut and, still lightly raced over fences, can prove a cut above his rivals.
Philip Hobbs-trained stablemate Westend Story shaped like he needed the run on his reappearance at Uttoxeter last month and he could provide the greatest threat.
Pride of Lecale had a wind operation prior to this month’s return at Market Rasen, and he looked better than ever, quickening clear from two out to score in style. That was just his fourth start over hurdles, so he remains open to improvement, and he is expected to make an impact at this higher level.
His prospects are helped by the excellent form of the Fergal O’Brien stable. Nordic Combined should appreciate this step up in trip and is considered a leading danger.
Elvis Mail has progressed into a useful hurdler for Nick Alexander and continued his improvement when winning on his handicap debut at Ayr earlier this month. That was the five-year-old’s best effort yet, and there could be plenty more to come given his strong-travelling style.
He gets the vote to edge out the Nicky Henderson-trained pair Epatante and Elusive Belle.
Willie Mullins took this race with Total Recall in 2017 and looks to have a good chance of winning again with Cabaret Queen. Mullins’ mare made light work of her Munster National rivals at Limerick last month, winning by 13 lengths on what was just her second start for the yard.
With a good chance of more to come, a hefty rise in the weights may not be enough to stop her. The Nicky Henderson pair Ok Corral and On The Blind Side are feared most in a race where Paddy are paying the first 6 home.
Things didn’t quite go to plan for Magic Saint following his Wincanton success last term, but, following a wind operation, he shaped well on his return in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The test of stamina seemed to find him out on that occasion but this drop in trip will suit and he makes plenty of appeal.
*Prices and entries correct at time of publishing