Neptune winner Yorkhill is obviously the one everyone has to beat in this after winning on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse – I was on the runner-up that day – and I suspect he will win, but he may not have it all his own way. Anibale Fly may have disappointed badly at Kempton last time but if he comes back to the form of his earlier Drinmore second he will give the favourite a race, and our Gangster shouldn’t be underestimated either. We thought a lot of him before he lost his way over hurdles last season but he has come back well for Henry and has run two good races over fences, including over course and distance last time. There is more to come from him.
Gigginstown have three in here and you have to think that A Toi Phil is our number one hope in what is obviously a very competitive race. He has been a bit disappointing on his last two starts but they were in Grade 1 company and if he comes back to the form of his defeat of Jetstream Jack in the Florida Pearl at Punchestown in November then I think he could prove to be very well-handicapped off 143. I think he is better than that, and the step back to 2m5f should suit him, too.
You have to think that Heartbreak City only has to jump adequately and get luck in running to win this off a mark of just 125, so the others may be playing for places. But racing is rarely that straightforward, especially in 23-runner handicap hurdles over 2m around here, and whether he will have the pace and experience is also a concern if you are backing him at a short price. We have Ice Cold Soul in the race and I imagine he is one of the outsiders. But things didn’t work out ideally for him here last time on his return from a long absence, and he is a course winner. He could run well at a price, but I wouldn’t mind riding Golden Spear myself on what will probably be decent ground.
We look to have two good chances in here with Sutton Manor and Brightest Flame. The blinkers looked to have made a big difference to Brightest Flame at Tramore last time and a mark of 123 looks fair, while I won on Sutton Manor over 2m2f at Wexford before he was stepped up to this trip when third at Fairyhouse last time. Gordon’s other runner Woodland Island is also interesting off a mark of just 124 over hurdles after a good fourth here last time.
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