After showing useful form in bumpers, Imperial Alcazar made a successful debut over hurdles at Aintree in October, looking a strong stayer in a decent maiden. He has progressed since with two runner-up finishes, most recently in a listed event, and sets a good standard for a race like this.
Pistol Whipped got off the mark over hurdles at the second attempt at Fakenham and was value for extra when making a successful chase debut, following a breathing operation, over this course and distance last month. He is a strong sort who is likely to progress further in this sphere and looks more than capable of following up for the in-form Nicky Henderson.
Ballyellis thrived in plating company this autumn, racking up four wins, and has continued his improvement since being switched back to handicaps, finishing runner-up on his last two starts. He should continue to give a good account and can take advantage of a return to claiming company to get his head back in front.
Ardmayle built on a promising third at Sandown in some style when forging clear at the same course in March. He is yet to fire this season but a return to hurdles might show him in a better light and, considering how well he goes in the mud, he gets the vote to regain the winning thread. Miah Grace made it two wins from three over hurdles last month and is a likeable mare who is unlikely to have reached her limit.
She makes the most appeal of the opposition.
Catamaran du Seuil went with plenty of zest and shaped as if back in form when fourth at Doncaster over three miles last month. The longer trip probably didn’t show him to best effect, so a return to shorter here rates as a positive and, off 3lb lower than his last winning mark, his claims are there for all to see.
There was plenty to like about Thoor Castle’s return when third in a novice at Warwick last month. The Irish point winner caught the eye from a long way back and looks very much the type to improve now pitched into handicaps. The assessor hasn’t taken any chances with her opening mark, but she is open to further progress in this sphere and is taken to make a winning handicap debut.
*Prices correct at time of posting