Darling Maltaix showed fairly useful form over hurdles last season, notably winning a competitive handicap at Ascot, and he shaped encouragingly on his chase debut at the same course in November when finishing fourth – taking to fences pretty well at the first time of asking. He then failed to see out the three-mile trip at the same venue a few weeks later, but it is best to simply put a line through that run. This step back in trip should suit him nicely and – having been dropped 3lb for his previous effort – he can take advantage of this good opportunity against less exacting company.
12:25 Catterick – Presence Of Mind
Presence of Mind was successful on his only start in points and showed a fair deal of promise when making his debut under Rules at Fakenham in October. Olly Murphy’s charge went with zest before a lack of experience told late on as he hung right entering the straight and was headed inside the final furlong. He made amends shortly after when landing a Huntingdon bumper a month later, coming clear with a fellow point winner, responding well to get off the mark under Rules. He looks very much the type to take to hurdling, so boasts leading claims.
13:10 Fakenham – Havana Hermano
Havana Hermano broke his maiden at this course in January and, though his subsequent races haven’t seen him in his best light, he got back on track somewhat when sixth in a Huntingdon handicap in December. He was certainly not disgraced at Huntingdon – particularly considering he would have benefitted from a stronger gallop – and, with this step up in trip likely to eke out further improvement, he is of significant interest off a 3lb lower mark. The excellent form of trainer Stuart Edmunds – four of his last 12 runners have won – is another positive for his chances.
12:25 Catterick: Presence Of Mind
13:10 Fakenham: Havana Hermano
13:15 Exeter: Darling Maltaix