Swilly Sunset ran poorly when last seen on the Flat, but he produced his best effort to date over hurdles when runner-up at Doncaster last time. He pulled well clear of the third at Doncaster, suggesting he has earned this 6 lb hike in the weights, and, given he is still improving over hurdles, he can go one better here.
Thomas Shelby showed fair form without winning for Alan King, but he opened his account in points last year and gained his first Rules success over this course and distance in December. He is still relatively unexposed over fences and makes plenty of appeal in a race in which many of his rivals have a question to answer.
Lots of Luck left the form of his previous efforts well behind when scoring on just his second start over fences at Taunton on Sunday, jumping soundly on his way to a seven-length success.
That form is the best on offer and, turned out quickly under a penalty, he should prove difficult to beat with further progress anticipated. Trainer Kim Bailey has his string in good form, winning with three of his last six runners, which increases confidence.
This is a good contest, featuring a Grade 2 winner in Hang In There, plus two horses in Pacify and Shan Blue who have been placed at that level, but they will all struggle to fend off Shiskin, who created such a powerful impression at Newbury that he soared to the head of the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Shishkin fell on his hurdles debut at the same course in December, but he was clearly none the worse for that incident and he looked a natural jumper and really exciting prospect when bolting up by 11 lengths.
He can use this Listed race as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Tea Clipper pulled it out of the fire to land the hat-trick and maintain his 100% record when making a successful handicap debut here in December. This step up in trip will suit given he is bred to be a stayer, and, though he has a 3 lb rise to contend with, he is expected to prove too good for his rivals.
The Composeur was bought for £72,000 after running out a ready winner of a point, hasn’t shown much to work with on his three starts under Rules, but he appeals as the type to do better in handicaps now stepping up in trip.
He can take a big step forward now presented with a sufficient test of stamina and he gets the vote over Mister Murchan, who opened his account under Rules at Plumpton last month and should go well again after a 4lb rise.
Marada left her debut form behind when third in a listed bumper over this course and distance a couple of months back and that sets the standard in this field. This should be an easier assignment for Dan Skelton’s mare and she is taken to get the better of last-time-out winner Coquelicot.