Useful Flat-racer Ginistrelli has joined a good stable for his hurdling career and could be tough to beat if he jumps soundly, but DUSTY’S CHOICE is already proven over jumps and gets the nod in the hope he can build on the promise he showed for a different stable last season.
Bumper winner Aire Valley Lad also warrants consideration.
We probably haven’t seen the best of Le Grand Rocher yet, and he doesn’t have Goshen to worry about this time. But this might be fought out by the two former Sir Mark Prescott-trained Flat-racers who make their hurdling debuts today.
Stout stayer Timoshenko had slightly better form in that sphere but, over today’s trip, GREY SPIRIT may have too much speed for him.
Rock On Tiger made good late headway when placed at Huntingdon in November and also gets a mention.
Cases can be made for several of these but the most interesting runner is arguably PERFECT CITY, who was once a useful Flat-racer in France and now makes his handicap hurdle debut.
Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding struggled on heavy ground when last in action, but showed more than enough promise before his penultimate-flight fall at Southwell last summer to suggest he can win in this grade.
Giga White has a very uninspiring record over hurdles, but his useful Irish Flat form offers hope he can do much better now back on decent ground. Emma Lamb and Highland Bobby are also respected.
Escapability was placed in a handicap on his latest hurdle start and has the best chance on the figures in this novice event, but DIODORUS is taken to defy his penalty.
Tristan Davidson’s six-year-old gained his hurdling win over 2m on heavy ground, but the evidence from his exploits in staying handicaps on the Flat offers hope he might prove even better suited by today’s combination of trip and ground.
Four-time C&D winner Sirobbie may yet have further improvement to come, while That’s A Given scored at Hereford when upped to 3m 1f for his latest start and remains unexposed as a stayer.
However, it might be worth chancing SEROSEVSKY, who was out of form on slow ground for his new stable during the winter, but is now 5lb lower than when winning on a sound surface for Harry Fry last spring.
Bandsman is on a handy mark and looks interesting, but it’s possible today’s trip will stretch his stamina.
Preference is for MINELLACELEBRATION (NAP), who has a perfect 2-2 record at this track and returned to form with a good effort in defeat at Doncaster in February.
Brian Boranha also features prominently in calculations, while Pickamix is a more speculative option to consider.
Several of these warrant consideration but top of the list is ECLAIR DES SABLONS, who was a very creditable second on his handicap debut at Exeter in October and is now back on the same mark for his first run on a sound surface since.
Demon D’Aunou will also be suited by today’s conditions and, from a career-low mark, is feared most.
Black Buble is next on the list, ahead of Catch The Cuban who moves up in trip today.
The most appealing option is MIDNIGHT MAGIC, who made good progress last season and might have more to offer if his January wind op proves successful.
Wilberdragon has become unreliable and is not as good as he once was, but will be dangerous if in the right mood.
Still Believing and The Happy Chappy have become well handicapped, while it will be interesting to see what the market makes of multiple point winner Pride Of Parish on his first start after a long absence.
Mini Crest and Bonnie Golightly are two newcomers from respected stables and both have good pedigrees but MISS FARAGE sets a fairly good standard, having been placed in a race contested by geldings on her debut at Ludlow in January.
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