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This looks a good opportunity for SERIOUS CHARGES, who sets a fair standard under a penalty for his dominant display at Exeter and is open to more progress on this step up in trip. The pick of the opposition could be The Big Red One, who wasn’t beaten far in his sole bumper and should appreciate this much stiffer stamina test on his hurdling debut.
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Mongol Emperor justified favouritism in his final two starts last season and is a key player if he can pick up where he left off, but preference is for the very lightly raced 4yo KOTMASK, who has won both his starts for Gary Moore this winter and has plenty of scope for further progress on his handicap debut. The other one on the shortlist is Small Bad Bob, who got back near his best when runner-up behind an improver at Fakenham last month.
Foxboro has finished close up over 2m4f in his last two starts and is respected on this drop back in grade, but preference is for CILAOS GLACE (nap) who made his breakthrough over fences when forging clear from a subsequent winner over C&D last time. The Flying Sofa looks interesting if he can get back near his best on his second run after a break, while Premiumaccess is also on a workable mark and needs checking in the market on his comeback.
The evidence over hurdles suggests firmly that this is between DREAM IN THE PARK and Gamaret, who were both runner-up on their first attempts in this sphere, and it is not an easy choice. Duke Of Bronte’s Flat form stands out a mile but he has not raced for 1332 days. Captain Claude won a heavy-ground bumper last time.
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Preference is for two of the 5yos in ONE LAST GLANCE and Hititi who bring the fair chance of further improvement, having found one too good for them last time out. However, there could be major dangers lurking in the shape of handicap debutant Highstakesplayer, judged on his bumper form, and Miss M who is so far down the weights, while Global Wonder comes here following last week’s hurdles career best.
None brings that solid a case but BALKARDY can probably be forgiven his latest start, which came on on heavy going, and he gets the vote ahead of Envol De La Cour and That Ole Chestnut.
While Lilith, Poniente (if she stays) and The Toojumpa (if she jumps) are clearly major players judged on their recent performances, there is a very interesting candidate lower in the weights in WIND TOR. Polly Gundry’s mare has had plentiful success in points and may well prove suited by this switch to fences after her campaign last February-May over hurdles. Lilith is second on the list.
Bolsover Bill raised his game for last week’s appearance at Newcastle (his second handicap) and is brought out again quickly to race off the same mark. If he fails to back up that performance, the one to take advantage could be BENDY BOW who did very well all things considered six weeks ago when he returned from a long absence. After The Fox won last time but his longer-term record suggests his revised mark will prove tricky, so Antony may prove more of a threat.
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