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Preference is for SHADY CHARACTER, who hit a clear personal best with a brave win on his chase debut at Worcester and a 4lbs rise for that success looks fair. Sir Tivo is feared most under a penalty for his comfortable win at Stratford.
Although Infinite Sun looked dangerous when unseating at Market Rasen last time and has claims if he can eliminate the errors. The other one on the shortlist is the well-handicapped Nobel Leader, who has not been beaten far at Huntingdon in his last two runs.
Top of the list is Jamie Snowden’s lightly raced five-year-old NO ANXIETY, who has had a win and close call in his two runs over fences this spring and is open to more progress on his drop back in trip.
Drakes Well made a bold bid when runner-up behind the selection in his only previous run over fences and he’s feared most back in this sphere, though Siannes Star was an easy winner here 13 days ago and is respected on his step back up to 2m 4f.
Newton Abbot winner Lady Jane P had a tough task in a Listed race in her final run last year and is respected back in calmer waters on her return. Pollypockett has possibilities if she can build on her promising debut third over course and distance, while there are several newcomers who need watching in the market including Lady Thistledown and Kishorn.
However, the vote goes to MATTIE ROSS, who found a lot of improvement when a clear second at Ludlow on her comeback last month and sets a fair standard on that form.
Percy’s Word sets a good standard, but he was bit disappointing in a Ludlow handicap on his return last month, and preference is for WICKED WEST – who made a bright start for Richard Newland when trouncing his rivals under a positive ride at Ffos Las.
Trouble Shooter was placed over course and distance on his recent hurdling debut and has each-way claims again, while Halifax showed clear promise in his sole hurdle run in Ireland and is an interesting contender on his first start for Jonjo O’Neill.
An open race in which it might be worth siding with ULYSSES, who is very well treated on his old form and turned things around with a close call behind a front-running favourite at Uttoxeter 18 days ago.
Bomber’s Moon is feared most, though Racing Spirit was a comfortable winner over course and distance when last seen 11 months ago and is a major player if he can pick where he left off. Others who could have a big part to play are Layerthorpe, Just Once and yesterday’s Worcester winner Thirtyfourstitches.
Lightly raced six-year-old Pinnacle Peak displayed improvement when fourth over 2m 4f here last month and is open to further progress over today’s longer trip (his dam won over 3m 2f), but preference is for EDEN COLLONGES (NAP). He was third behind a revitalised subsequent winner over course and distance two weeks ago and is effectively 5lb lower today. Big Picture is next on the list.
The vote goes to SOLSTALLA, who has been revitalised since a wind operation in March and travelled well for a long way before forging clear at Newton Abbot ten days ago. She remains feasibly treated on her best form and may well be able to strike again to record her seventh hurdle win.
The big danger is Dan Skelton’s Ever So Cool, who came good when justifying favouritism in a Uttoxeter handicap on her return last month.
Several have possibilities but the vote goes to the versatile mare NEETSIDE, who raised her form to a new level when justifying support under Tom Midgley at Worcester 16 days ago. The main danger is Dreamsundermyfeet, who chased home a major improver over 2m 7f last time and shaped as though the return to this trip would suit. Rock The House also looks interesting on his drop back to 2m 4f, while another key player is Phoenix Dawn – who has reached the frame in four of his last five starts.
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