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American Gerry finished runner-up on two of his three starts in bumpers and he made a promising debut over hurdles when runner-up in a warm novice at Exeter last month. He was below his best when a distant runner-up at the same course on New Year’s Day, but he suffered a cut then and is better judged on what he showed on his hurdling debut. That form is the best on offer and this looks like a good opportunity for him to get off the mark.
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Checkitout wasn’t at his best when fifth in the Silver Cup at Ascot last month but that effort can be excused as it came only a fortnight after he was a creditable third in a gruelling edition of the Becher Chase. He has had six weeks to freshen up, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is in excellent form and this represents a marked drop in grade, so he holds strong claims.
Passing Secrets made little impact over hurdles but he has fared better since being sent chasing, finishing runner-up on both occasions. He remains on the same mark as for his last two efforts and could have a bit more to offer over fences, so he looks worth siding with.
Aristocrate showed useful form on the Flat in France, finishing placed in a couple of Listed races at Saint-Cloud, and he has since been bought for €140,000. He is in excellent hands with Richard Newland and this exciting recruit to hurdling starts out in what does not appeal as a strong race. It’s worth noting he holds entries in the Supreme and Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival.
Flying Nun is a half-sister to the smart Angels Breath and she’s shown enough promise in three starts in novice and maiden hurdles to suggest she can prove better than this opening mark of 94. She showed a bit more than she had previously when mid-division at Ludlow last month and improvement is anticipated on this handicap debut for the in-form Emma Lavelle.
Lickpenny Larry found his stamina stretched when upped to three miles at Warwick on New Year’s Eve, but the way he went through that race suggested that he was in decent heart and one to note when dropped in trip. He drops to two and a half miles here and has been eased another 2 lb in the weights, so he catches the eye off 5 lb lower than the mark he defied last season. He could prove difficult to reel in if getting into a rhythm out in front.
Hardy Fella shaped with some promise when runner-up on his debut at Fairyhouse in October and he raised his game to finish fourth in a listed bumper at Cheltenham in November. A repeat of that form would make him difficult to beat here on his first start for Chris Gordon having been bought out of Shark Hanlon’s yard.
Sunday Fontwell tips
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