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COME ON TEDDY showed improved form to emerge best of the home team in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last time, passing the post five and a half lengths behind the impressive winner Mrs Milner. Dropped out in the early stages, Come On Teddy still had plenty of ground to make up at the seventh before putting in plenty of good work in the straight, sustaining his run into third by the run-in and even appearing to finish with running left. Still only a seven-year-old, he is the type to keep on improving and remains potentially well treated from a BHA mark of 137.
MY DROGO maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles in the Premier Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso last time, conceding weight all round and doing so in emphatic fashion. He was produced to lead before the last and quickly forged clear to land the spoils by nine and a half lengths in an excellent time. That form comfortably sets the standard here on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, so My Drogo is very hard to oppose as he attempts to make it four from four over hurdles. He remains open to further progress now stepping up to two and a half miles, too.
SHISHKIN is Timeform’s highest-rated novice chaser in training after extending his winning sequence over fences to four with a decisive success in the Arkle at Cheltenham last time. He typically jumped well and took control of the race three out before sauntering clear in the straight, ultimately winning by 12 lengths with plenty in hand. He is clearly a horse of extraordinary ability, while the large ‘P’ attached to his Timeform rating denotes that he is likely to prove capable of significantly better than he has shown so far. This Grade 1 should prove little more than a formality.
THYME HILL showed very smart form in two starts earlier this season, beating Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and then filling the runner-up spot behind that rival on 3 lb worse terms in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. Sadly, Thyme Hill was forced to miss Cheltenham due to a minor setback, but he has gone well fresh in the past. Still relatively unexposed, he may yet have more to offer and looks best equipped to cope with the relative test of speed that this course provides. He is fancied to make it 2-1 in his meetings with Paisley Park this season.
HAPPYGOLUCKY has finished no worse than second in four starts over fences, putting up his best effort yet when filling the runner-up spot on his handicap debut in the Ultima at Cheltenham last time. The winner Vintage Clouds had dropped to a very lenient mark judged on the pick of his form, so Happygolucky did well under the circumstances to be beaten only five and a half lengths after a sloppy jump at the last. With further improvement on the cards, he is fancied to defy a 2 lb rise in the weights to get back to winning ways.
CLOTH CAP has won his last two starts in impressive fashion, easily making all in both the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and Premier Chase at Kelso. Crucially, his Kelso victory came after the weights were published, so he escapes a penalty for that wide-margin defeat of some smart rivals. Not only is he very well-in, but Cloth Cap has looked an assured jumped and finished third in the Scottish Grand National as a novice, so the trip shouldn’t be an issue. With ground conditions also in his favour, Cloth Cap rates a worthy favourite for Trevor Hemmings, who is seeking a record fourth win in the Grand National.
BALCO COASTAL looked something out of the ordinary when making a winning debut under Rules in an all-weather bumper at Kempton in February, clocking by far the quickest time for the five races on the card over 2m. He travelled strongly just behind the leaders in a well-run race and quickly forged clear after being produced to lead entering the final two furlongs, ultimately winning by 17 lengths from Get Sky High, who advertised the strength of the form when going one place better on his next start at Stratford. Balco Coastal should improve for that experience and rates a fascinating contender in this Grade 2.
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