A tendency to race enthusiastically could ideally be toned down a bit by TOMORROW MYSTERY, but she could be on a good mark now back over hurdles following an encouraging third on her return from an absence at Bath recently. Playa Blanca has been making hay in handicaps and he is probably not done with yet but equally interesting is Neff, who ran better than the bare result here in February. He hasn’t been seen since but is another who is anything but exposed.
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It may not be completely straightforward for SOARING GLORY, who concedes weight to some interesting rivals, but he sets a good form standard as things stand. Irish point winner Amarillo Sky and bright-looking newcomer Dusart are potentially well above average, while Danehill Kodiac has a live chance if transferring his Flat form to this code and No Risk Des Flos is open to improvement. Any market moves should be heeded.
A race to watch closely, as the last two runnings were won by subsequent Grade 1 novice chase winners La Bague Au Roi and Champ. All of the runners are chase debutants so a lot will depend on how they jump, but THE BIG BREAKAWAY is just about the brightest prospect in the field and has the form to go with it. The race-fit One For The Team may be able to grab second place but House Island and Kalooki are also well capable of vying for that spot.
Luck Of Clover has plenty of racing know-how from her Flat days and Will Victory won both her hurdle starts in France so they have to be worth a second look. However, GRAN LUNA made a good impression when winning a bumper here in February and has the potential to make a very good fist of it over hurdles, particularly against her own sex. Equilibrium has a squeak on her Irish form but has something to prove on her debut for a new yard after a layoff.
A race which partly revolves around whether the 2017 winner Dell’ Arca, who escapes a penalty for his recent success in a lower grade, can still prove competitive at this useful level. He’s very well handicapped if that’s the case. There are several progressive types among the younger runners, notably DOLPHIN SQUARE (nap) who finished one place in front of Dell’ Arca in a C&D contest when last seen. Present Chief and Third Wind are still unexposed at this sort of distance, while Fugitives Drift is another potential threat if he manages to stay the trip (first attempt). Several of the more exposed contestants are well treated on their best form.
Last year’s winner AZZERTI went through a quiet spell after his success here but he is well handicapped as a result and his recent return at Fontwell suggested that he was back on the right tracks. Morning Vicar also has a good deal to recommend him following a bold effort at Uttoxeter and he looks the main danger, along with Rectory Road, Mine’s A Pint and Johnbb.
There are plenty of striking newcomers who need watching in the market including Petrossian, No Hubs No Hoobs, Duke Of Rockingham and Breakwater Buoy. However, Nicky Henderson has won this race twice in the last four years and the vote at this stage goes to his debutant NO ORDINARY JOE, who has several useful winners on his dam’s side including a smart bumper performer.
The second division of this bumper looks interesting and fairly open, as most of the runners have good credentials. The top two on the shortlist are FLETCH and Mr Glass who both cost six figures, but there are also plenty of others to consider and the betting should help to sort out the pecking order.
The Racing Post’s tips at Newbury today
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