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It’s not going to be popular with many, but I have long wanted to take Honeysuckle on in this because I don’t think she’s half as good as her record suggests. She keeps winning, which of course is super cool, but she’s never faced a monster rival. The chances are there isn’t one in the line-up to beat her, but if there is, it has to be APPRECIATE IT for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. The Champion Bumper runner-up and last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle winner has always looked a potential star. While his form from last year is hardly bomb proof his bumper efforts suggest he is very good. First time out won’t be easy for Appreciate It, but hopefully he will serve it up to Honeysuckle.
No surprises to anyone who knows me that I think SHISHKIN is an absolute beast for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. I fully expect him to win. The former Supreme Novices Hurdle and Arkle winner was superb at Ascot last time when picking off Energumene. While there are plenty of reasons you could argue the form might be turned around, but I think Shishkin will be too good. Indeed, a peak form Chacun Pour Soi might be more of a danger.
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Defending champion FLOORING PORTER can do it again and defend his crown. This is a good race for returning winners and Flooring Porter might just have too much pace for Paisley Park and Champ, who was a real flop last time for me after landing the Long Walk Hurdle in style. Paisley Park will be a player even at the age of 10, if the ground comes up soft, but I expect the quirky but talented Flooring Porter to make just about make all the running.
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He’s won it twice and was well beaten in his hat-trick bid last year, but I’ll be playing AL BOUM PHOTO each-way here for Willie Mullins. Indeed I put him up at 20-1 on Attheraces early in the season and have no reason to change as a muddled picture has just become more and more muddled in recent times. The winner of his only start this term, it was expected Al Boum Photo would run more this season than in previous campaigns but that hasn’t happened. That said, he hasn’t fluffed any lines and he stays stronger than most in the field. Hard to keep out the frame.
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