A winner in points, The Jitterbug showed much-improved form to get off the mark over hurdles at Uttoxeter last time, the emphasis on stamina clearly playing to his strengths as he found more than Sending Love, who for a long way looked to have the measure of him. The second home that day has since gone well in a novice chase, giving a little extra credence to the form, and with further progress anticipated, The Jitterbug is taken to defy a penalty and record back-to-back victories.
Hugo ‘n Taz attracted support on his first outing for David Pipe on Boxing Day, and proved better than ever to make a winning start to life at his new yard. An imposing sort, there is every chance he will progress further now he’s got his head in front over fences and, with that in mind, he makes plenty of appeal here following an 8 lb rise.
Winning pointer Ballybreen has been much improved over fences since being fitted with blinkers, landing races at Hereford and here before digging deep to land the hat-trick in typically gutsy fashion at Carlisle last month. This is going to be a tougher assignment after going up another 5 lb, but his attitude is faultless and it is difficult to see many in this field having enough in their armoury to prevent him claiming his fourth successive win.
Jack Valentine has run to a fair level when placed on all four of his outings over hurdles and sets the standard in this contest. He remains frustrating, given the form he showed in bumpers (runner-up and winner in his two outings in that code), but there still remains potential for better over hurdles and he may be able to take advantage of a relatively inexperienced field and belatedly open his account.
On The Road hasn’t tasted success for a while now but has shown positive signs of late. With first-time blinkers replacing the cheekpieces, Evan Williams’s charge produced his best performance of the season so far at Chepstow last time, just failing in his bid having been carried a little right by the winner. He is up just 2 lb for that effort and remains with leading claims.
Demopolis took a much-needed step back in the right direction when fourth at this course in January, catching the eye late on, and fully confirmed the promise of that run when landing a Ludlow handicap chase on his first attempt over fences the following month. Returned to hurdles, and off the same mark as when victorious previously, he took another step forward, following up at the same venue to grab a hard-fought victory. He is up 5 lb for that run, but there is a suspicion that he may well still be ahead of the assessor (he started life in handicaps off 31 lb higher), and he appeals as the one to beat as he bids for a hat-trick.