Only 5 go to post for this event over 2m today but some good horses on show and one or two may be Cheltenham bound in the Spring. Read on for our expert analysis and runner by runner guide plus tip.
IN SUMMARY: King’s Odyssey won nicely at Cheltenham in January and looks to be an exciting prospect this season for his yard and market vibes should be heeded. That being said CLOUDY DREAM is another chaser who could be anything this season and will have his sights set for bigger targets as the season goes on. He can give his local yard and jockey yet another winner in what will be an interesting race tactically between the likely front two in the market.
1 Doctor Phoenix – Won this race last year when only 3 runners, beating a horse from the Colin Tizzard yard by 2 lengths. This was the second of back-to-back wins having previously won a 0-135 Handicap Chase at Lingfield by 5 lengths. That was good form but this year’s renewal looks a much tougher assignment and likely to struggle on his return from an absence of 322 days.
2 Hollywoodien – Won a decent Handicap Chase when last seen beating Jayo Time from the Dr Richard Newland stable. One of two wins last season having won at Ascot also in December. Will win races this season but others more persuasive today.
3 King’s Odyssey – Exciting chaser when last seen winning a decent Cheltenham Handicap Chase in January. That’s strong form in this line up and will be using this as a stepping stone for future targets. One of his stables leading lights however they have been a bit quiet recently.
4 Pain Au Chocolat – Previously trained by Alan King he has shown a similar level of form since joining Dan Skelton winning twice so far including over C&D here a year ago. Finished a long way behind the winner in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter 16 days ago but ground was not ideal that day and a return to softer ground may suit but that may not be enough to trouble the top two though.
5 Cloudy Dream – Very useful hurdler last season comfortably winning a 2m3f Novices Hurdle at Doncaster before another facile success in a Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen in the Spring. Won his Chase debut in a similar manner last month at cramped odds and has the look of an exciting chaser for his local trainer who is operating at a 50% strike rate in the last fortnight. Tough to beat.