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The eight-year-old RICKETY GATE is one of the few progressive sorts in this big field and is taken to beat the in-form The Wise Traveller and the winning chasers Fantomas and Flying Verse.
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This looks like a good opportunity for ISSUING AUTHORITY to break his duck over hurdles, having been placed in two pretty useful races. Storminhome and the hurdling debutants Feel Good Inc and Dj Pete are others with a chance.
Ballyglass has his sights lowered but his jumping wasn’t an asset at Haydock and, although he has potential, KELLAHEN may be the better option at this stage in their careers. This multiple Flat winner doesn’t have an obvious background for jumping but he has taken well to hurdles and probably had a tough task when runner-up at Wetherby. Lihyan was going the right way when last seen in July but lack of a recent run could hold him back today. Joe Dadancer faded on his hurdle debut but has had wind surgery since and remains of interest given what he showed in an Irish maiden point.
Nicky Richards’ chasing debutant Famous Bridge (second choice) appeals as the sort to do well in this sphere but it’s hard to side against BOLD ENDEAVOUR (NAP) who created a good impression when going in at Leicester on his first run for Nicky Henderson and can make light of a 9lb rise. Baron De Midleton has experience on his side and appeals as the pick of the rest.
Taste The Fear is weighted to have a big say on his hurdles form if a recent wind op has had a positive effect and in-form pair Midnight Glance and Court At Slip (second choice) seem sure to be on the premises. However, THE QUESTIONER was placed on his sole points run and comes here on the up over hurdles, so this likeable sort is taken to make a winning start over fences.
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Tommy Cullen, in particular, is worth a close look now he goes handicapping but SPORTING MIKE has excelled himself in his two most recent handicaps and is taken to defy another rise in the weights for a recent defeat at Wetherby, when coming from well back before he was hampered on the run-in. Maclaine has a tendency to go right but he looks a likely improver after his Fontwell win in November and is preferred of the remainder.
Lots of potential on show in an intriguing bumper and the betting should prove highly informative. Irish point winners Townhill and Willmount (second choice) are seriously considered, while Luckie Seven and Highfield Prince are other debutants from good yards to factor in. But LUNA BREEZE really catches the eye on pedigree and with Brian Hughes in the saddle, so she is taken to make a winning debut.
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