Pentland Hills tops the market in this on, but Darasso could be an interesting horse up against him.
It’s a very interesting little race.
Pentland Hills travelled well on his reappearance at Cheltenham back in December for the International Hurdle.
The only thing I would say is I’d be a bit concerned about the ground. It’s not just heavy, it’s going to be swimming pool heavy! It’s going to be terrible. And it’s just worrying me a little bit for him.
Darasso has been very much unexposed since being brought over from France. They started him over two-and-half, and he was second to Bachasson in that first one on Irish soil.
He stepped up to three miles in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park and was fifth that day.
Dropping back to two miles seemed to be the making of him. He beat Forge Meadow very easily then Cadmium in Navan in a chase very easily.
He is the unknown. But one I’d stick with if I was having a bet is CORNERSTONE LAD.
I don’t think he’s been given the credit he deserves for winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle back in November.
He had Silver Streak three and three-quarter lengths behind in third that day. Silver Streak was five lengths behind Epatante at Kempton on Boxing Day and Epatante is favourite for the Champion Hurdle! (By the way Cornerstone Lad is still a massive price for that.)
He’s won twice at Haydock, loves heavy ground and he might get the run of the race out in front depending on what Sam Twiston-Davies does on Ballyandy.
If Ballyandy sits second there’s a chance Cornerstone Lad will get away on the front like he did at Newcastle.
And what we saw at Newcastle is he’s not that easy to peg back either so for the price he’s at, he’s good value I think.
My best bet of the whole weekend is SAM BROWN – a horse I’ve been really taken by since his chase debut at Lingfield.
He was up against Just Your Type, who is rated 134, Sussex Ranger (126) and Jammin Masters who is rated in the 130s.
He absolutely destroyed them on his first start over fences. Jumped unbelievably well bar pecking at one down the back and powered away from them down the straight to win by 22 lengths.
Now if you go back through his form he’s only had five starts ever, so is a little bit fragile – but he’s won four of them.
He beat Lalor on his debut in a Wincanton bumper. Lalor of course went on to win the Aintree bumper that year, won a grade one over hurdles and has found his form running well over fences at Cheltenham last time.
He also beat Chef Des Obeaux on his second bumper start at Chepstow. Talk is Cheap was third.
The only time he was beaten was on good ground over hurdles. He got back up on his second hurdles start next time out though beating New to this Town.
He’s very, very exciting. If the ground were to come up soft at Cheltenham he’d have a rice chance in the RSA and he’s really flying under the radar.
My only small worry is the bounce factor.
We was off for two years before winning at Lingfield and is now out again relatively quickly.
But he should win this and is definitely one to keep in your mind for the spring festivals.
I’m going to give a chance to the outsider of the field, RED INDIAN for Kelly Morgan, in this one.
She’s a trainer that is underrated. She gets them ready first time out. In the Foxhunters last year and the year before she had Top Wood. He was second in 2018 first time out, he was third last year first time out.
Red Indian’s form first time out is very good, winning first time out in 2015, ’16 and ’18. And 2017 he was third in a competitive Cheltenham handicap after being sent off 5/1 favourite.
Ben Jones is a classy claimer and takes 5lbs off, and I just think off the mark he has a right chance first time out.
This one looks between three, really: Edwardstone, Thebannerkingrebel and Stolen Silver.
Stolen Silver looked useful finishing second behind Chantry House in December, while Edwardstone obviously beat Fiddler on the Roof in November last year.
My one worry with him is he can be quite keen and this small field might count against him.
THEBANNERKINGREBEL, despite the fact he’s conceded a 5lb penalty, might be the one to back here.
Just the way it is set up will suit him.