Top Notch has been a terrific servant to connections over the years and resumed winning ways on his reappearance with a gutsy display at Aintree, battling on well to record a first win over hurdles since February 2016.
The eight-year-old disappointed on his final couple of starts last season, but he clearly retains all his ability and enthusiasm, and, even better in this sphere than he is over hurdles, it will be disappointing if he isn’t thereabouts once again in a race he won back in 2017 (when staged at Taunton after Huntingdon was abandoned). La Bague Au Roi was a smart novice last season and rates the chief threat if bouncing back from a below-par return at Wetherby.
West Cork stepped up on his debut second when filling the same spot at Warwick last time, travelling strongly through the race and likely to have given the winner even more to think about but for a bad mistake three out.
The form of that race is working out well and Dan Skelton’s charge rates a good bet to open his account in this sphere at the third attempt, the standard-setter on weight-adjusted ratings who may yet have even more to offer in a first-time tongue strap.
Mandalayan was fairly useful on the Flat and looks best of the rest following an encouraging hurdling bow at Taunton.
Chosen Flame produced a career best when second on his most recent outing at Ayr, no match for the winner (who followed up over fences at Sedgefield on Friday) but keeping on well in his own right to pull clear of the remainder.
Rose Dobbin’s charge certainly showed enough to suggest that he is up to winning races from his current mark, and with his yard in top form, he could be worth chancing at rewarding odds now up in trip.
Skyhill is feared most after winning over fences at Sedgefield last month, while the hat-trick-seeking No Trumps is another with leading claims.
*Prices correct at time of publishing