Has dropped markedly in the weights and left the impression he could be ready to strike when finishing second over two miles at this course last time. Mon Palois came rattling home on the occasion, suggesting he will be well suited by a return to this trip, and he can deservedly get his head back in front from a lenient mark.
This isn’t the strongest race of its type and it will be disappointing if MONTE CRISTO isn’t able to open his account for Nicky Henderson at the second attempt. He had some fairly useful form in France and was sent off the odds-on favourite on British debut in the Triumph Hurdle Trial (Finesse) at Cheltenham last time.
However, he failed to meet expectations, perhaps not suited by making the running in a small field. There should be more to come from him, though, and this race is a lot less demanding, so is a confident selection to come home in front.
HEY BUD unseated his rider at the seventh fence on his chasing debut at Doncaster last month, but he is worth another chance. Based on his win over hurdles at Wincanton last March, he could be well treated from a mark of 122 in this sphere, and is entitled to be spot on fitness wise now having had a couple of runs this season.
This doesn’t look a strong event and he tops the shortlist.
Nicky Henderson tends to start his better novices off at this track and IT SURE IS shaped with plenty of promise when finishing second to a useful type here on debut in November.
Admittedly, he took a backwards step when turned over at odds-on at Ascot on his latest start, but he could have been unsuited by heavy conditions on that occasion, and he is well worth another chance to confirm his earlier promise.
This looks very open, but MISTER MURCHAN could be the answer in a tight staying handicap. He is going the right way now, opening his account over hurdles at Plumpton last month, and running just as well in defeat when second at Huntingdon last time.
He bumped into a well-treated handicap debutant there, but still left the impression he has more to offer, and looks capable of winning more races despite having been raised 3 lb for that effort.
Didn’t make the best start over fences, but he is firmly on the progressive path now, winning his last two starts at Hereford and Haydock, and leaving the impression that there should be even more to come.
Billingsley showed a good attitude to hold off a well-treated sort at Haydock last time, jumping well if not slightly to the right, and he remains one to keep on the right side following a 7 lb hike in the weights.
Those with previous form don’t set a tall standard and it may pay to side with a newcomer in the shape of GRAN LUNA. The four-year-old makes appeal on paper, represents a powerful yard who do well in this sphere, and ought to know her job. Similar comments apply to Whiskey Lullaby, and she is feared, along with Outlaw Jessie James (on back of wind surgery) and Didonato.