DUKE OF CONDICOTE got off the mark in handicaps at the second attempt when forcing a dead-heat at Haydock in June, showing a gutsy attitude to join the leader on the line, and he has continued in good heart on the Flat since, finishing runner-up in two of his three subsequent starts. This step up in trip shouldn’t be an issue for him, and he merits serious consideration now hurdling for Alan King, who generally does well in this type of race.
BOTHWELL BRIDGE was strong in the betting ahead of his debut in a Huntingdon bumper in January, and he duly shaped with plenty of promise, just running into a useful prospect. He again bumped into one at Kempton subsequently, trying to make all but just unable to quicken as the potentially smart winner took over in the straight. That race has already yielded a couple of hurdle winners, and it would be no surprise were Bothwell Bridge to make a big impact on his hurdle debut.
STOLEN SILVER quickly reached a useful level over hurdles last season, winning a novice at Ffos Las and the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock, and he matched that form at the first attempt over fences at Newton Abbot last month, producing a good performance to finish third in a cracking novice. He remains open to improvement in this sphere and should be good enough to get off the mark over fences.
SORBET improved with each run when switched to hurdling last season, and she picked up where she left off on her return to action over this course and distance last month. Making her handicap debut, Sorbet never really made an impression on the winner after conceding the first run, but the third home has come out and won since, making that a solid piece of form. This is a trappy affair and Lucy Wadham’s charge makes the most appeal.
ANTHONY has been given something of a chance by the handicapper – he is now 10lb lower than his last winning mark, which came in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot back in 2016 – and is in with a real chance if able to bounce back to form. He endured a poor season last campaign, but stopped the slide after seven months off at Chepstow recently, jumping better than of late and keeping on well for second. He holds leading claims if able to build on that effort.
Making his chasing debut after 10 months off, EBONY GALE returned to form at Huntingdon last month, finishing an encouraging second in a race that has already produced a subsequent winner. His mark over fences is 13lb lower than his initial hurdles one, and he ought to be capable of making his presence felt.
Those with previous form could be vulnerable to an above-average newcomer, so Olly Murphy’s MISS GOLD DEN looks worth siding with. A Shantou mare who is a sister to the smart Polly Peachum, Miss Gold Den is a likely type on paper, and with Murphy’s impressive strike rate with bumper horses, she gets the vote.
Fergal O’Brien has a good record with bumper debutants, in fact he has saddled two winners of that type in the last month, so it is difficult to ignore the chances of BLUE SANS. A Sans Frontieres mare, Blue Sans got off the mark in Irish point at the second attempt in February, and is a big player on her Rules debut.
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