A useful hurdler last season, Highest Sun has quickly reached the same level in two starts over fences – most recently finishing a good second to Pym in a novice handicap at Ascot. That rival gave the form a boost when following up at Cheltenham on Friday, and Highest Sun has been found a good opportunity to record a first chase win of his own here. The 10lb he receives from Diablo de Rouhet is likely to prove decisive in an interesting match between the pair.
Highway One O Two is related to a couple of talented performers over obstacles (including the useful Doctor Harper) and could be worth chancing to make a winning start to his hurdling career, with plenty of encouragement to be taken from his four starts in bumpers. Those with previous experience in this sphere set only a fair standard, so fellow hurdling debutant Cristal Spirit could be the one to give the selection most to do.
Mr Perfect was placed in two bumper starts, including when third (beaten just two and a half lengths) on his reappearance at Lingfield two weeks ago. The longer trip now switching to hurdles should play more to his strengths, and with Charlie Todd claiming 7lb, he won’t need to be anything out of the ordinary to get off the mark over timber at the first attempt. Imperial Esprit and Top Man are best of the rest in a weak race of its type.
Hard To Forget proved better than ever when opening his chase account at Hereford last month, staying on to lead two out and ultimately well on top at the finish (won by seven lengths). The six-year-old remains potentially well treated from 9lb higher here, with further improvement on the cards. He looks sure to mount a bold follow-up bid if arriving in the same sort of mood. Dylanseoghan and Battle of Ideas are fancied to emerge as the chief threats.
Making just his second start since joining Zoe Davison, Scrutinise took advantage of his much-reduced mark to belatedly record a first win over hurdles over C&D two weeks ago, quickly asserting on the run-in to get the verdict by five lengths. A 9lb rise in the weights makes life tougher here, but he was rated even higher than this in his prime and should GO well again if building on the promise of last time. Broke Away and Outrath are others who might have a say in proceedings.
Flaminger was outclassed by Lisp on his chasing debut here two weeks ago, but he still shaped very well with a switch to handicaps in mind, making some late headway under considerate handling to take second. That form comfortably sets the standard here on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, and his scope for further improvement now up in trip suggests that he really ought to take all the beating. Vicenzo Mio and Minella Voucher can fight it out for the minor honours.
Little River Bay makes plenty of appeal on paper (half-sister to the smart chaser Imperial Presence) and could be the way to go in an interesting finale. He represents the Philip Hobbs yard that continues in top form. Fellow newcomers Milnthorpe and Just In A Muddle are also worth a second look in the betting, while Falberto sets the standard of those with previous experience.
12:10: Highest Sun – 4/6
12:40: Highway One O Two – 13/8
13:10: Mr Perfect – 2/1
13:45: Hard To Forget – 6/4
14:15: Scrutinise – 7/4
14:50: Flaminger – 11/10
15:20: Little River Bay – 2/1
* All odds correct at time of posting.