Monte Cristo showed some fairly useful form in France, beating home a subsequent winner at Auteuil on his latest outing. He has joined Nicky Henderson and, considering his trainer has taken this race four times since 2013, he may well prove difficult to beat on his British debut. Rowland Ward arrives on the back of a win at Kempton and is considered the main danger.
Cloudy Glen has made a promising start over fences and looked like a well-handicapped horse when finishing second at Carlisle last month, travelling with enthusiasm and jumping well before he was collared close home. He came down at the fifth at Market Rasen next time but quickly bounced back with an easy win in a two-runner race at Haydock on his latest appearance. Venetia Williams’ improving chaser looks to have got into this race on a handy mark and may be able to take advantage.
Highway One O One proved at least as good as ever when third at Kempton last month, shaping better than the bare result in a race he could have won under more favourable circumstances. He was sent for home a long way out in a well-run race and was overhauled after the last by a pair of similarly unexposed chasers. This drop in trip may suit and he is capable of winning off this mark.
RSA runner-up Santini was undoubtedly one of the best staying novice chasers last season, and he didn’t need to be at his best to land a small-filed Sandown listed event on his reappearance in November. He wasn’t overly impressive at Sandown but has undergone a wind operation since and, with more to come from Nicky Henderson’s charge, this race looks a good opportunity for him to advertise his Gold Cup claims.
King Roland was one of the top bumper performers in Britain last season, winning on both of his starts, and he landed an Exeter maiden in taking style earlier this month to open his account over hurdles. This longer trip looks ideal for Harry Fry’s exciting prospect and he can prove too strong for his rivals. Harry Senior has some solid form and should have more to offer, so he is considered the leading threat.
Paisley Park’s fine victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season confirmed his status as the dominant force in the division and, having recently added the Long Distance Hurdle to his CV, he looks set to land this race for the second year running. If The Cap is still unexposed over this trip and proved as good as ever when landing the Coral Hurdle a couple of months back. He has a tough task to lower the colours of Paisley Park, but he should be respected nonetheless and is expected to provide the biggest threat.
Sofia’s Rock was a useful performer on the Flat and quickly reached a similar level over hurdles last season, winning two of his four starts. He lost little in defeat at Huntingdon last time when bumping into one well ahead of his mark and, off the same rating here, he should give a good account. We Run The Night has won three from three in France and has to be respected.
- 12:40 – MONTE CRISTO
- 13:15 – CLOUDY GLEN
- 13:50 – HIGHWAY ONE O ONE
- 14:25 – SANTINI
- 15:00 – KING ROLAND
- 15:35 – PAISLEY PARK
- 16:10 – SOFIA’S ROCK