A really difficult race in prospect here with the majority of runners struggling for form, Nefyn Bay is back hurdling after a win here over fences last time but the step up to 3m is not sure to suit. Royal Mandate ran his best race yet when 3rd last time and this step up in trip could eke out more improvement. The selection however is PROFESSOR PLUM who has ran well both starts here, his hurdles form is modest, but the stable is in great form and he has dropped to a handicap mark he should be winning from.
Nefyn Bay | J: Miss A. McCain T: Donald McCain
9-year-old has won 6 of his 27 starts under rules, four successive 2nd placed finishes over fences before battling gamely to just get up by a short head here over 2m4f last month. Returns to hurdles off a 4lbs lower mark than that win over fences and makes the step up to 3m for the first time today.
Staigue Fort | J: James Corbett T: Susan Corbett
Last win came back in October 2013 when trained by Emma Lavelle, joined Susan Corbett last year and ran over course and distance on just his second run for the yard finishing 3rd at 100/1. Pulled up on both runs so far this season and now steps back up to 3m with an awful lot to prove.
Berkshire Downs | J: Rachael McDonald T: Sandy Thomson
0-19 under rules and has not looked like breaking that sequence of losses recently, beaten over 40 lengths in a maiden hurdle at the start of last month and not much better when returned to handicap company at Ayr over 2m just 13 days later. Up to 3m for the first time now and this needs to spark some improvement.
Wind Of Hope | J: Henry Brooke T: Alistair Whillans
Multiple point to point runner and hunter chaser has been kept hurdling since joining Alistair Whillans this season. Demoted to second on Boxing Day after interfering with the runner up and then a well beaten fourth at Sedgefield last time, step up to 3m again will suit but this is a stronger race.
Rising Marienbard | J: Derek Fox T: Lucinda Russell
Bought for £30,000 after winning his point to point in May 2016 has had just the four runs for Lucinda Russell but beaten over 30 lengths in all of them. Handicap debut today on just a fair handicap mark, half-brother to a 3m5f chase winner and may do better when tackling marathon tips over fences in future.
Professor Plum | J: Craig Nichol T: Rose Dobbin
Regressed since winning two bumpers for this yard in 2014, the second of those was at this course beating now 137 rated chaser Double W's. Still a maiden over hurdles but ran his best race for a while when 3rd over today's course and distance in November in a first-time visor, 2lbs lower here today.
Royal Mandate | J: Tony Kelly T: Rebecca Menzies
Ran a poor race on handicap debut at Musselburgh in December, step up in trip and cheekpeices brought some improvement when 3rd back here last month. Now steps up even further in trip but looks reasonably handicapped on his last run, not without a chance if improving for the 3m trip.
Ange Des Malberaux | J: Conor O'Farrell T: James Ewart
Just the 2 wins in 23 runs for this stable, back to form when 3rd over this course and distance in November but not as good in both starts since. Dropped 3lbs by the handicapper but beaten in each of his starts in this grade, jockey/trainer combination 29% when teaming up however.
Witness | J: Finian O'Toole T: Micky Hammond
Brother to the useful Nicky Henderson trained Whisper, yet to win in 10 runs since joining the Micky Hammond yard from France. Makes his handicap hurdle debut form the yard today and steps up to 3m for the first time in his career, stamina doubts as well beaten on both runs over 2m5f in France.
Dutch Canyon | J: T: N. W. Alexander
Back hurdling after a spell over fences this 8-year-old is now 0-25 and based on his last two runs here he is unlikely to be breaking that maiden tag anytime soon. Runs from a 6lbs lower mark than when last tackling these obstacles in February last year and hard to see him winning today.
Dolly's Dot | J: Mr Alex Chadwick T: Victor Thompson
Showed very little in 3 hurdle starts for this yard, 20/1 for just his second handicap last time at Sedgefield he was beaten over 20 lengths into 4th. Dropped 2lbs by the handicapper for that run and now steps up to 3m for the first time but hard to make a case for until finding an improved level of form.