Richard Johnson is a very positive jockey booking for Chosen Flame, who drops back in trip after finishing second over 2m4f here three weeks ago, while California Soul made a very encouraging stable debut last month and is also considered. However, six-time Flat winner SET IN STONE, showed more than enough promise in three novice hurdles last season to suggest she can collect a low-grade handicap such as this.
David Jeffreys’ 5yo PETRASTAR is 2-2 since switched to hurdling this year and, if his Flat form over staying trips is a guide, is open to improvement on this first attempt at 2m4f. Point/bumper winner C’Est Le Bonheur makes his hurdling debut after a long absence but is in good hands and there’s a good chance he can make up for lost time this summer. Irish point winner Offtheshoulder flopped in a bumper on his rules debut but can surely do much better.
Dr Hooves is only 2lb higher than when winning over fences at Musselburgh in February and will be a tough nut to crack if last month’s wind op proves successful but SOMETHINBOUTANGELA posted a good effort over hurdles on her latest outing, and her Irish point experience ought to stand her in good stead on today’s chasing debut.
Although Craigmor looks the stronger of the two Olly Murphy runners, he may be vulnerable off his higher mark for winning at Market Rasen so preference is for PETITE GANACHE, who looked good when scoring at Musselburgh last time and may be able to defy his own hike in the weights. Cases can also be made for No Hiding Place and Chocolat Noir.
Plenty of these have claims but the two to concentrate on may be Fubar and SOME BOY McCOY. The last-named was a fair third in a novice last time but he pulled hard on that occasion and should be capable of better if consenting to settle on this return to handicap company, If rain arrives, Pammi would be of interest, while others who can make their presence felt include Ronava and Celtic Flames.
We haven’t seen GREAT COLACI (nap) over hurdles since early 2019 but he’s quite well handicapped on some of his C&D form from summer 2018 and has looked in pretty good nick on the Flat in recent weeks. He gets the nod ahead of Wise Coco, who won here in September. Lady Samback was well beaten after a layoff last month but can feature if back on song today.
Richard Newland’s 8yo FORECAST is well handicapped on the pick of his hurdling form and can land this prize if able to build upon last month’s very encouraging stable debut in a Market Rasen novice chase. Monsieur Co was behind Boy’s On Tour when fourth over C&D three weeks ago but can’t be confidently opposed off his curent mark. Cracking Destiny displayed improvement for his new stable last season and is next on the list.
Given that most of these arrive with question marks against them, the percentage call is ISTIMRAAR, who has a recent course win to his name and is a free-going sort who may improve for the refitting of a hood. Fresh New Dawn got no further than the second fence on his chasing debut but has the ability to make an impact, while Cool Valley’s revival here last time puts him in with a shout if he can replicate that run. Walkin In The Rain is another to consider.
Nicky Richards’ mare HEADSCARF LIL ran with credit on all three appearances last season and this run-of-the-mill contest provides her with a good chance to enhance her trainer’s excellent bumper strike-rate. Lady Bowes has also shown significant ability and is second choice. Against All Odds is arguably the most interesting newcomer.
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