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Of the two penalised mares, BELLANEY GEM has a solid profile over hurdles this year and is narrowly preferred to Royal Practitioner. Durragh could be a danger, armed with all her allowances.
Irish raider MIG DES TAILLONS was progressive over hurdles in the second half of last year and is taken to make a winning return to this code having had a spell on the Flat of late.
Topweight GAME LINE (NAP) continues to climb the handicap, but this thriving seven-year-old can post his fourth win of the year. The six-year-old Furius De Ciergues is another progressive contender and is second choice.
Justforjames won over course and distance last time and can be bang there if reproducing that form, while Irish raiders Tyrrell’s Succes and New Money have been struggling of late, but should be monitored in the betting.
The Irish raider Dento Des Obeaux is an interesting contender now down in trip for his handicap debut, but preference is for SWORD OF FATE. He won at Perth recently and has run really well on both visits to Cartmel.
Schmidt went very close at Perth last time and is respected, while My Renaissance was an encouraging third from out of the handicap over course and distance last time, but could have done without the recent rain.
A warm little race. FRANCKY DU BERLAIS made it two wins in a row when landing a competitive handicap at Uttoxeter last time and the recent rain won’t harm his chances. He’s the selection ahead of Burbank, who made all in good style when back over fences at Aintree last month.
Soft or heavy ground would be a likely negative for Thomas Todd and Solar Impulse, for whom cases can otherwise be made. Meanwhile, course specialist Tonto’s Spirit also arrives in good form but has never won beyond an extended 2m 1f.
The blinkers have been a positive for SHERIFF GARRETT and he’s taken to make it three wins from four starts in the headgear. Khan returned to form with a win in a first-time tongue-tie at Fontwell last time and could have more to offer. He could be the chief threat, ahead of First Account. The recent rain may be a negative for Oksana’s hat-trick bid.
The Noel Kelly-trained DOUNE CASTLE did it nicely when upped to 3m 2f at Kelso last month and, although he’s now 12lb higher, he could have more to offer over staying trips. It will be interesting to see how his stablemates William Tyndale and Zero To Hero go in the betting.
But, the main threat may come from the very lightly raced 10-year-old O’Grady’s Boy, who could be well handicapped judged on his hunter chase second at Carlisle last time. Aptly Put, Liffeydale Dreamer and For Jim all have good recent course form and are also respected.
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