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A competitive handicap hurdle to start proceedings which can go the way of the Paul Nicholls-trained DARGIANNINI. He won three of his four starts for Harry Whittington last season (two over hurdles) and left the impression he is still a well-handicapped horse when narrowly beaten by a thriving sort at Taunton last month.
He was briefly tapped for toe on that occasion, and promises to be well suited by the extra emphasis on stamina now, so there is plenty to like about his chances. Earth Lord and Shantou Master, a couple of other unexposed sorts, can provide the biggest threat.
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Complete Unknown sets the standard of those with experience, but it isn’t an insurmountable one, and it could pay to take a chance on Rules debutant CITY CHIEF. He represents connections that rarely miss when purchasing from the pointing field, and this scorer in May could be another very useful recruit having been purchased for £210,000.
The aforementioned Complete Unknown will be winning races over hurdles sooner rather than later, so looks the obvious danger, along with Kincardine, who is a stablemate of the selection.
BRAVE SEASCA left the impression he had been allotted a fair opening mark on his chasing debut at Chepstow last month and he duly proved that to be the case when dotting up at Warwick last week. He had clearly learnt plenty from his debut in this sphere, travelling well and sent into the lead three from home.
He beat the well-backed runner-up with plenty to spare and holds leading claims wisely turned out under a 7lbs penalty. Karl Philippe and Red Rookie both shaped well when runner-up on their respective chase debuts and are a couple of others to consider.
JONBON, who is a brother to top-class Douvan, cost £540,000 after winning his sole start in points, so as you can imagine for that sort of fee, he very much looks the part in the flesh and hasn’t put a foot wrong in two starts under Rules so far.
He looked something out of the ordinary when making a winning start over hurdles at Newbury last month, catapulting himself to the head of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market in the process. So, for all this represents a big step up in class, he is taken to pass the test with flying colours. The unbeaten Knappers Hill can give him most to think about.
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Paul Nicholls has a good record in this Grade 2 event and PIC D’ORHY is fancied to give him further success. He can gain compensation for his late Newbury departure when seemingly well in command and confirm himself a leading novice in this sphere. Dan Skelton’s Faivoir has the form to play his part too, with impressive Exeter scorer Gladiateur Allen not taken lightly either in a fascinating contest.
HENRI THE SECOND looked an excellent prospect when making a successful debut at Chepstow in October and, with that experience under his belt, he’s fancied to maintain his unbeaten record for all this looks a deep contest. The selection’s stablemate, Hugos New Horse, is another one open to improvement, and shouldn’t be underestimated, either.
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