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Novices Deep Charm and Pitempton Power probably have more to offer in this handicap chase and preference is for the former. Deep Charm forged clear, despite a less-than-fluent round of jumping, to win by 13 lengths at Hexham last time and is taken to defy a 9 lb rise. That was only his second start over fences after finishing second at this course on his chasing debut and he’s likely to go on improving.
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This two-mile handicap hurdle features the largest field on the card and it looks wide open. Daragh Bourke’s mare Evita Du Mesnil has failed to fire both starts back from an absence, but she’s now just 1 lb above her last winning mark when successful at Perth last May and looks of interest. As well as being likely to get a good pace to aim at she’s partnered by excellent conditional Kevin Brogan.
A novices’ hurdle which could well develop into a match between Soft Risk and Olly Murphy’s runner Believe Jack. Preference is for the former, trained by Nicky Richards, after he took his unbeaten record under Rules to three with a facile 22-length success over this course and distance 18 days ago. With further improvement on the cards, he gets the nod.
Elvis Mail has a big weight in this handicap hurdle, though has conditional Bruce Lynn taking 5 lb off his back. He’s a three-time winner at Kelso for Nick Alexander and ran well back over hurdles when fourth in a deep handicap at Aintree six weeks ago so he could be the way to go.
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A case can be made for all four runners in this handicap chase but Richard Hobson’s Saint Xavier ran well over an inadequate trip last time and could be the answer. Despite winning an amateur contest at Auteuil over a much shorter trip in November, his first win for his current yard, he’s essentially a thorough stayer and the return to three miles will suit after plugging on for fourth at Haydock on his latest start.
Jane Walton’s Eveque is a half-brother to the Welsh Grand National winner Notre Pere, so while he didn’t show a great deal over hurdles, it’s not too surprising that he’s already looking better over fences. He fully confirmed the promise of his chasing debut when edged out at Wetherby on Boxing Day, finishing well clear of the rest, and looks more than capable of winning handicaps off his current mark.
Sunday’s Kelso tips
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
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