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Epic Pass was unsighted when fluffing the opening hurdle and soon pulled up at Ludlow, where he was much shorter in the market than the winner Mister Allegro. Preference is for SONNING though, a 1m 2f Flat winner who is in the right stable to develop his career over jumps.
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On looks, chasing is the natural step for JAVA POINT and the form of his final run over hurdles in a Cheltenham handicap has worked out really well. Fat Sam has the experience and that needs respecting, but it could be either Deniliquin or Rookie Trainer who give the selection most to think about.
The Paul Nicholls-trained SHEARER looked a nice prospect in bumpers and can make a winning hurdle debut. The other three can all make their presence felt, especially Smoking Pigeon who ran better at Uttoxeter than his final position may suggest.
Poppa Poutine is soon sent chasing despite a progressive profile over hurdles and he returns from a break with his stable going well. He could be a greater threat than Vision Des Flos, who has stamina to prove. However, it’s worth chancing a return to form from the 2019 winner WANDRIN STAR. There’s nothing wrong with his mark and he ran really well straight after his previous wind operation.
This may go to MONTYS MEDOC, who could have done without the late rain when winning at Newton Abbot. He gets the nod ahead of Getalead and Translink.
The most likely winner is MON FRERE provided conditions don’t soften up, and there is some rain forecast for the afternoon. Kalyptra would be an appealing alternative should there be some ease underfoot come race-time.
A competitive finale. Manor Park has no Glory And Fortune to worry about this time, but there could still be some improvers lurking, with IRON MIKE (NAP) and Famoso interesting newcomers to the handicap scene. The selection showed flashes of useful form last season, could be better for wind surgery and Thomas Doggrell is excellent value for his 7lbs claim.
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