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An interesting match to open the card between MICK PASTOR and Sebastopol, who were closely matched on their hurdling exploits, but the former arrives on a roll and has more experience over fences. Mick Pastor made a mockery of his handicap mark at Newton Abbot last time, so looks leniently treated from a 7 b higher mark, and is taken to come out on top, but Sebastopol is a point winner and the market will be interesting.
An open handicap and preference is for SNUG AS A BUG, who hasn’t finished out of the first two in three starts since joining Susan Gardner. She was unlucky to bump into another improver when turned out under a penalty at Fontwell last month, and a reproduction of that effort would probably suffice here. Isle of Aron shapes as though this stiffer test will serve him well and he is next on the list ahead of recent Huntingdon winner Soul Icon and Eclair des Sablons.
NEW TO PADDY POWER?
AN TAILLIUR looked the type to run up a sequence when opening his account at Market Rasen earlier in the year and he has duly done just that, showing no ill effects of a four-month break when recording a four-timer at Warwick last month. He did no more than was necessary in a tactical race and is almost certainly still ahead of the handicapper following another 5 lb rise in the weights. Ground conditions should be fine and the longer trip should suit, so he is fully expected to extend his winning sequence. Story of Friends and Khan are feared most.
WHAT’S OCCURRING was in good nick when last seen at Southwell in July, still going well when falling five out, and he has been given plenty of time to get over that. He looks the way to go here given he returns on a handy-looking mark and also has an excellent record when fresh. Gleno has also won off a break before though so is feared most with Larkbarrow Lad not ruled out either if on a going day on his comeback.
PENS MAN didn’t manage to win a race over hurdles but, a point winner in the past, he has made a seamless transition to fences, winning both of his starts at Uttoxeter and Warwick. He jumped fine in the main – apart from a less-than-fluent leap at the third-last – and idled on the run-in, suggesting he was value for more than the half-length margin. The cheekpieces go back on now (first time over fences) and he should be able to defy a 5 lb rise. Caspers Court and Pointed And Sharp look the likeliest dangers.
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No form to go on here, so a tentative vote is given to EEL PIE ISLAND, who is a sister to fairly useful hurdler Talking About You, and is a rare runner in this sphere for a top Flat yard. Bonnet and Iliade Allen are other likely types on paper in a race where the market will be very informative.
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