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THE GREY FALCO was a fair novice hurdler last season and he took advantage of a falling mark when opening his account for the campaign at Haydock last month. That was his first start since undergoing a breathing operation and he immediately showed the benefit, while also being helped by his three closest pursuers all making a mistake or stumbling badly at one point or other in the straight. A subsequent 2 lb rise is very workable and he now has a conditional rider taking off 10 lb. Global Agreement also arrives in top form and his attitude continues to hold him in good stead.
DOUGLAS TALKING progressed with each start over hurdles, but he is every inch a chaser on looks, and duly made a winning starts over fences at Musselburgh 11 days ago. He may have benefited from a good tactical ride on the day, but the feeling is he was much the best anyway, and there should be plenty more to come from him. He is turned out under a 7 lb penalty and pitched into a better race now, but is still taken to come out on top. Somekindofstar coped well with the drop back to this trip when winning at Fakenham and is next best.
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LOVE ENVOI won a bumper in Ireland and has done nothing but progress over hurdles since joining these connections. She wasn’t fazed by the drop to two miles when completing a hat-trick at Lingfield last time, beating another well-touted mare with a bit in hand. The ground was holding that day, which probably played to her strengths at the trip, but there should be even more to come from her now back over two and a half miles. She is expected to take the step up into graded company in her stride. Nina The Terrier remains one to be positive about also having looked unlucky not win at Haydock last time.
HOGAN’S HEIGHT stormed to victory in the Grand Sefton over the National fences at Aintree back in 2019 and, while he isn’t quite at that level nowadays, he capitalised on a drop in grade when resuming winning ways in a hunter chase at Ludlow last month. He beat a couple of useful chasers on that occasion and he is very much the one to beat here on that form. Rolling Dylan is the obvious threat judged on this season’s efforts.
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MONVIEL finished midfield in a bumper which has worked out well in November and left the form of his hurdling debut well behind when opening his account at the second attempt in this sphere at Wincanton last time. He was strong at the finish over this trip on that occasion and, while he will be well suited by going back up in trip down the line, conditions here will place the emphasis on stamina, and he is fancied to go in again. Learntalot, who was a few places behind Philip Hobbs’s charge that day, is entitled to progress from that initial effort.
A case can be made for several of these, but DR KANANGA is lightly raced, and proved better than ever when scoring by 12 lengths at Chepstow last time. He was strong in the betting on that occasion and looked a staying chaser to follow, making all of the running and jumping soundly throughout. He is 12 lb higher now and in a deeper race, but he could have much more to offer. Venetia Williams’ Laskalin is weighted to go well, with in-form Poppa Poutine not without a chance either
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CONTEMPLATEMYFAITH got off the mark at the expense of a subsequent wide-margin winner last time, so it’s worth taking a chance that he can prove too good for a mark of 116 on his first go in a handicap. Essential Jaco has made a positive start under Rules and may yet have further improvement in him, so he’s feared most.
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