IN SUMMARY: Winner of this race twelve months ago, the double beckons for CYRUS DARIUS, who has been running extremely well over fences this season. He’s still lightly raced for his age and with Brian Hughes in such scintillating form, he should be very tough to beat with conditions ideal. The main danger is Better Getalong, who needs improvement but his Grade 2 second shows that it’s likely to be forthcoming.
Cyrus Darius | J: Brian Hughes T: Ruth Jefferson
Joint highest rated who won this race twelve months ago, returning to timber after some good runs over fences. Heavy ground is perfect for him and his jockey Hughes is in scintillating form. He's still lightly raced for his age and despite carrying a penalty, he should prove tough to stop.
Better Getalong | J: Ryan Day T: Nicky Richards
Useful bumper horse who is 2/3 over timber, winning two week novice races. His third in a tough Listed race at Cheltenham in November proved he's capable at this level, but he does need improvement to live with some useful rivals. Heavy ground is fine, but he may just find one too strong here.
Chti Balko | J: Will Kennedy T: Donald McCain
Career best effort to easily win a Handicap at Haydock two starts ago, running too a similar level at this venue last month, He's likely to go forward and this small step up in trip should suit based on his point form. If managing to get a soft lead, he'll be hugely dangerous from the front.
Katgary | J: Craig Nichol T: Pauline Robson
Has not won since June 2016, beaten by a neck at Kelso last time. He was narrowly ahead of Chti Balko that day, but he's now ten pounds worse off at the weights. Previous runs at this level haven't been fruitful and it's very easy to look elsewhere in the circumstances.
Dame Rose | J: Jonathan Burke T: Richard Hobson
Lightly raced five year old who was a shade disappointing at Doncaster last month, albeit against some useful rivals. She receives weight from all her rivals, but she does have stamina to prove at this distance. Hard to rule out entirely but more negatives than positives.