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CHAVEZ was tailed off in an Exeter bumper when last seen in January, but he had looked a useful prospect when making a successful debut here. Chavez beat a couple of subsequent winners on debut and is better judged on that form. He has been given a wind op ahead of this hurdling debut.
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WHEN YOU’RE READY was in need of the experience and shaped as if he’d benefit from stepping back up in trip when third on his chasing debut over 2m at Worcester. He duly took a big step forward over this course and distance a few weeks ago, seeing things out well in a strongly-run race to score by 4 lengths after impressing with how he jumped and travelled. When You’re Ready – who was wearing cheekpieces for the first time – had more in hand than the winning margin would suggest, and he can defy a 7lbs rise in the weights.
FOREVER BLESSED impressed with how well he coped with demanding conditions on debut at Ffos Las, drawing clear after the last to win by 11 lengths. He built on that positive impression when defying a penalty and scoring by 18 lengths at Sandown a few weeks ago, looking like one of the best juveniles we have seen so far this season. He is an exciting prospect and can handle this rise in grade.
KATESON ran poorly in a novices’ handicap chase on his first start for Alastair Ralph last month, but he produced a much better effort over hurdles at Aintree a few weeks ago. Kateson finished third in that contest and was beaten only by a couple of lightly-raced and well-handicapped rivals. The handicapper has taken him a chance by easing him 1lbs and he ought to give a good account.
SECRET REPRIEVE was an impressive winner of last season’s Welsh Grand National, jumping well and travelling powerfully on his way to a three-length success. Secret Reprieve hasn’t been seen since winning the Welsh Grand National – which was staged in January rather than December last season.
But, he can make light of that absence and defy a 6lbs higher mark this time around. He is still only seven and has had just the six starts over fences, so there should be more to come.
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BRINKLEY quickly developed into a smart hurdler, winning three of his six starts in that sphere, and he made a pleasing start over fences when landing a novice chase at Huntingdon a few weeks ago. Brinkley won by only a length-and-a-quarter, but he was value for more than that winning margin having pressed on a long way out with Oscar Elite.
Oscar Elite, the odds-on favourite, was ultimately beaten 20 lengths in third, so it is to Brinkley’s credit that he was able to dig deep and fend off Honest Vic on the run-in. Brinkley has been handed a fair opening mark in this sphere and remains open to improvement.
SEVENTEEN O FOUR, a dual winner on the Flat, made an encouraging start over hurdles when finishing fourth here a few weeks ago and is entitled to improve with that experience under his belt. That looked like a decent race and he was only beaten by a trio who had shown some promise. He shouldn’t have a problem dropping back to 2m (from two and a half miles) and is worth siding with.
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