This may concern CAPTAIN TOM CAT and El Borracho, who were both placed behind promising Olly Murphy winners in separate divisions of a Southwell novices’ hurdle. The selection finished considerably closer to his conqueror with a subsequent winner in third and that division also clocked the slightly quicker time. High Change could also have a say in matters.
This is quite a quick reappearance for Balagan after showing improved form here ten days ago and he does have the penalty. Preference is for FAMOUS RESPONSE, who was travelling within himself when departing mid-race on his stable debut here last year, for which he was sent off at odds-on. The danger could be Nativegetaway, who has flashes of decent form in staying chases.
Plenty of these have questions to answer on one count or another but not so OXWICH BAY (nap), who will have every chance of defying a penalty with a reproduction of his Newton Abbot form. Arthur’s Sixpence could be the danger if ready to rock after a year out.
Although a maiden FORT DE L’OCEAN has threatened to win over fences and he didn’t run at all badly on his reappearance in stronger company than this. Back on the good ground essential to him, Bagan could be the one he has to beat.
His declining mark is for a reason but PETER THE MAYO MAN ran well to a point at Southwell two weeks ago and this looks an easier race. Get Back Get Back remains relatively unexposed in this sphere and is feared most, while keep an eye out for any confidence behind Kuiper Belt. He’ll surely show more for Christian Williams sooner or later and this better ground could make a difference to him.
A case can be made for all five but KINGS TEMPTATION proved his current wellbeing when a comfortable winner here last week and can follow up with a good chunk of his penalty offset by Bryan Carver’s claim. Almost Gold could have more to offer in this sphere and can give him most to do.
It’s possible the drop back in trip and addition of a tongue-tie will enable Magellan to see his race out a bit better but he’s still not entirely convincing and it might be worth taking him on with INNERPICKLE. Nigel Hawke has done well with horses making a switch to handicaps after two runs in recent times and this 4yo appeals as a likely improver having shown promise last season. Tom Scudamore has a good strike-rate for Stuart Kittow and the first-time visored Freddy Fanatapan is another with the potential for better now moving into handicaps.
There could be more to come from PRESENT CHIEF on the back of his Fakenham second in March and he gets the nod for a trainer/jockey combination which had a handicap hurdle winner here last week. Prussia With Love is a likely danger now handicapping for the first time under ground conditions which should suit based on bumper form. Cheltenam De Vaige has done well in points but his jumping lacked fluency over fences on last week’s return to rules and he may prove a different proposition back hurdling.
River Nore is an interesting newcomer with his respected Flat trainer booking Aidan Coleman but this may well go to BUTTSBURY LADY, who hails from a family that has served Nicky Henderson so well.
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