You can make a case for nearly all of these. Open Eagle has probably achieved the most with his novice form but he carries a 10b penalty and hasn’t been out since last season’s Albert Bartlett, and the 139-rated Sadler’s Risk may be the one to beat coming back to hurdles at these weights. But he hasn’t been out since November, either. It was a tough choice between Burgas and Woods Well for me, and the former is rated 5lb superior, but Woods Well looked really good when winning at Fairyhouse on New Year ’s Day before disappointing in heavy ground at Clonmel last time. He is up against seasoned horses though and it won’t be easy. Gordon also has Midnight Escape in here and he steps up in class and trip after winning over 2m3f at Naas last time. In fact, I think everyone will fancy their chances in here with the exception of Mannin Island and it is a very difficult race to call.
I am probably up against it here with horses of the calibre of Cheltenham disappointment Diamond King and Great Field in the race, and he clearly ran no sort of race over 2m4f at Naas a fortnight ago, though he was looked after in that small field when his chance had clearly gone. He had earlier looked good when winning on his chasing debut for me over 2m1f at Fairyhouse, and the step down in trip will suit him, and he won his bumper here too, so let’s see how he gets on. If the ground dries out it will be in his favour.
He has not really progressed since his promising second on his chasing debut at Gowran in October, and has been beaten a long way on his recent starts. But at least he may find this easier than handicap company at Down Royal on Boxing Day and he would have chances on that Gowran run. Art Of Payroll is probably the one we all have to beat in here but 2m6f around here could stretch his stamina, even if he does have form at this trip.
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