He bounced back to form when winning well at Kempton last time. I know that this represents a far stiffer test in a far stronger race but he should love this decent ground and I think the return to a left-handed track is very much in his favour, as he did jump to his left at Kempton. I think a mark of 143 is just about fair, but nothing more. Hopefully there is improvement to come, though.
I have ridden him four times and won twice. The first was when he won on his debut in an Ascot bumper and most recently when he beat Present Man, who has developed into a pretty smart horse this season, over 3m1f at Wincanton in May. I haven’t been on board recently, so I haven’t ridden him for the best part of a year, but I thought he ran a good trial for this race when sixth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. He shaped as though this longer trip was well worth trying that day, as he stuck on well there from an unpromising position, and don’t forget that was only his fourth start over fences. That could be viewed as a negative but I can see him going well on decent ground that he will like, even though he has won in testing conditions. The boss obviously thinks the first-time cheek pieces will help him, too – maybe keep him more interested – and that is good enough for me.
I have ridden him once before, when pulled up behind Yorkhill in a Grade 1 at Aintree last season. He has been running well in novice chases recently but he is switched back to hurdles here off what looks a fair mark on his novice form of last year, particularly his second to Le Prezien at Kelso. I can see him going well and he has each-way chances in an open race.
He is owned by Altior’s owner, who also had a winner with Silverhow at Cheltenham on Saturday. I think they may have another decent prospect here, as he is a nice horse who is going the right way at home. He is a half-brother to three winners, and is ready for his debut.
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