There could be significant rain prior to racing and that might not benefit Shinobi, whose best runs have been on good ground and his worst on soft. FEARLESS, on the other hand, seems fine on anything and Olly Murphy’s gelding probably has the best form anyway. The dark horse is Imphal, a useful Flat stayer and near the top of his game in that scene when last seen over a year ago.
A well above average beginners’ chase, and all five could be winning at some point this season. I K Brunel has long looked an embryonic chaser and is a fine long-term prospect but, with the benefit of fencing experience on his side, slight preference is for COOLANLY. He already sets a decent standard and is likely to lack nothing in fitness first time out.
Vorashann was a big eyecatcher here last time but he’s now in a better race off a 5lb higher mark and with no 7lb claimer up top, so he has a lot more on his plate. Jackson Hill is interesting after wind surgery and with Richard Johnson being 2-6 for the yard, but a chance is taken on WESTBROOK BERTIE. He’s well handicapped on some of his form for Mick Channon and new trainer Lawney Hill can get them fit at home.
A quality handicap chase that will take some winning but there could be a big run in HIGHWAY ONE O ONE (nap), if having had a wind operation can see him back in business. He has threatened to win better races than this in the past and his record when fresh is encouraging. Azzerti is another who might be best caught first time back, while Cobra De Mai can also feature.
With a fair bit of progress hopefully on the cards, the once-raced BALKO SAINT looks like the likeliest winner. Big Jimbo improved on his hurdling debut over this C&D last time and should be thereabouts again, while the hurdling debutante See The Eagle Fly is also respected.
If anywhere near his best after a break then ONE OF US should go close at a lower level than he’s accustomed to. Never Learn is feared most with a pleasing reappearance behind him. Top Up The Fashion was closing fast on Buster Edwards here last month and may reverse those placings. Pres appeals as a young stayer with more to offer but his jockey has yet to ride a winner over fences.
Now raised in distance Furia D’Oudairies is very interesting, as her dam stayed even further than this. Preference though is for HIER ENCORE, who won’t mind any rain and whose best days have come here.
On these terms KERB LINE should finish in front of Sexy Lot and since their Exeter encounter the selection has produced a solid first effort in handicap company. Chinwag was improving when last seen and The Rosary Flyer, as a handicap debutant for the Skeltons, also comes into it.
The Racing Post’s tips at Fontwell on Friday
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