Dark Lochnagar showed useful form on the Flat and was a thorough stayer over middle distances so looks a decent recruit to juvenile hurdling. His half-brother Dove Mountain took well to hurdling, while trainer Keith Dalgleish has done well in this sphere with similar types, so he has plenty in his favour. Tavus sets the standard among those with hurdling experience but has to bounce back from a disappointing effort in a Grade 1 last time.
Starplex has been in excellent form since rejoining Keith Dalgleish, finishing second at Sedgefield in November before registering two authoritative wins at Newcastle in December. He wasn’t quite able to complete the hat-trick at Kelso last time, but he still posted an improved effort, going down by only a head. He looks well treated off the same mark and should go close. Adelphi Price caught the eye on his handicap debut and is open to plenty of improvement for Phil Kirby, so he appeals as the main danger.
Dino Boy made a successful – albeit fortuitous – start over fences when scoring over this C&D last month and he ran to a similar level in defeat at Wincanton last time, finishing third in a stronger race than this. He could yet do better, bearing in mind he has raced only five times under Rules, and he has a much more appealing profile than his rivals.
Jobsonfire didn’t show much in novice company but, having been given a break and stepped up markedly in trip, he showed much-improved form to make a winning handicap debut at Doncaster. He drew clear before the last and scored by ten lengths in impressive style, looking a horse worth keeping on the right side. He escapes a penalty for that wide-margin win as it was achieved in a conditional jockeys’ race, and he should prove tough to beat.
The Paddy Pie ran much better when third at Sedgefield last time than he had on his reappearance here in October, and he might be capable of taking another step forward. He jumped accurately, travelled with enthusiasm and looked a big threat on the approach to the straight before his effort flattened out. He has been dropped another 2lb in the weights, looks well treated and primed to strike for the in-form Sue Smith yard.
This is a decent novices’ hurdle and it might pay to side with Adicci, who did well to reel in a rival who had been allowed to control things at the head of affairs at Plumpton last time. That was an encouraging hurdling debut from Adicci and, with the form of his latest success having been boosted, he is likely to offer good value against Eden du Houx, who clearly has ability but is likely to be a shorter price than his hurdles form warrants.