Fraser Island reached a fairly useful level on the Flat when trained by Mark Johnston and he must have a good chance here on his hurdling debut if managing to reproduce that sort of form. There is certainly no better man to prepare him for the task than Nicky Henderson, who has a good record with his recruits from the level, and he could be worth chancing to make a winning start at the expense of John Betjeman.
Shiskin was snapped up for £170,000 after striking at the second time of asking in Irish points last November and looked useful when landing a Kempton bumper back in March. He tanked along and stayed on strongly to beat his rivals comprehensively that day, identifying him as one to follow now making the transition to hurdles.
Notachance has already bettered his fairly useful hurdles form since switching to fences, going one better than the time before when successful at Exeter last month. He won with more in hand than the bare margin suggests that day, having idled in front before ultimately finding just enough to repel a stamina-laden rival, and a bold follow-up bid is assured with further improvement on the cards.
Magic of Light didn’t need to improve on her previous form to run out a comfortable winner of this event last year, and it is difficult to see anything but a similar result for Jessica Harrington’s charge 12 months on. She ended last season with an excellent second in the Grand National and looks likely to take plenty of beating now back over fences, having blown the cobwebs away with a spin in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan last month.
The Big Breakaway was purchased for €360,000 after bolting up in an Irish point in the spring, and that immediately looked money well spent as he made an emphatic start to his hurdling career at Chepstow last month, cruising to an easy defeat of some more experienced-opposition. He must shoulder a penalty for that win here, but, such was the manner of the performance, it is difficult to see anything other than a repeat result for Colin Tizzard’s exciting prospect.
Shanahan’s Turn has become too well handicapped to ignore of late, and, with two runs under his belt already this season – including an excellent second in a veterans’ handicap at Lingfield recently – he looks primed to capitalise on his lenient mark. Defi Sacre has improved since his switch to chasing this term, and, having readily accounted for a weak field at Musselburgh recently, he also also demands respect if able to reproduce that form in this more competitive environment.
Coquelicot made plenty of appeal on pedigree (a half-sister to three winners) and duly produced a promising first effort at Warwick last month, pulling well clear of the remainder after finding a stablemate too strong. She sets the bar pretty high for a fillies’ bumper and should be more than capable of continuing her trainer Anthony Honeyball’s current good run of form.
*All prices and entries correct at time of posting