IN SUMMARY: Stamina is the order of the day and that will suit COURT FRONTIER down to the ground, as the heavier it gets the better he is. He shaped with promise on his seasonal debut at Newbury in a race that was on ground that was far from ideal. His current mark is fair based on the best of form and he can take victory at the expense of Dandy Duke, who arrives on a hat-trick after thundering home at Southwell ten days ago.
1 TOBEFAIR – One of the stories of last season, a four time winner to complete a sequence of seven in a row. A dour stayer who is ground adaptable, he is four pounds above his last winning mark. Runs this season have not been up to scratch so he’s risky, but he couldn’t be discounted with any confidence.
2 THREE MUSKETEERS – Struggling over hurdles of late, he is yet to show that three miles is what he really wants. Beaten a long way at Haydock last time in a similar contest, looks booked for a struggle here.
3 KRIS SPIN – Needs heavy ground because he has fragile legs, a fluent winner at Ayr before a rock solid run behind a tartar last time. Has conditions in his favour once more but this is a deeper level than he usually operates at so others make more appeal.
4 TEMPLEROSS – Didn’t really take to fences earlier in the season, a beaten favourite on both occasions. Fared no better back over the smaller obstacles last time so although he has slipped to a tempting mark, he is difficult to support with any confidence at present.
5 FLEMCARA – Progressed well since handicapping, the further he went the better he looked at Exeter last time. Soft ground suits well, with this step up in trip looking sure to suit. This is significantly deeper than he has run in before, but with just five runs under his belt over hurdles, he is surely capable of better.
6 SOURIYAN – Picked up a couple of wins at a lower level in the autumn but has been beaten a long way in a pair of starts at this track since. This looks too deep a contest for him, especially from this far up the weights.
7 BATTLE OF IDEAS – Off the mark at the third time of asking at Plumpton, stepping into handicap company for the first time. His opening gambit looks fair judged on those behind him there, though they have done little for the form since. Steps up in trip on the softest ground he has faced but that could be the making of him. Considered.
8 DANDY DUKE – All wins have come over three miles on deep ground, including here in November. He is improving at a rapid rate of knots, coming from a long way back on a sharp track last time. His yard won the race last year, providing this doesn’t come too soon, they have a solid chance of doing so again.
9 CHEF D’OEUVRE – Regressed badly since a Hereford win in desperate conditions in February. Stamina is his strong suit but has increasingly looked as if he downs tools when things don’t go his way. Reverts to hurdles from a tempting mark, but limited appeal on what he has shown this season.
10 ON THE ROAD – Has run up a strong sequence of form since February 2016, not finishing worse than second in ten starts. Won from this mark over fences last season, his runner-up effort last time has been well franked since. This will be his toughest test to date and didn’t look desperate for this trip when he tried further last season.
11 COURT FRONTIER – Dour stayer, he won over three and three-quarter miles in March. Ran respectably on his seasonal return at Newbury where conditions wouldn’t have been testing enough for him. The heavy ground here sees him in his element and off a attractive mark based on his chasing form, he should have too much resolution for these.
12 DRIFTWOOD HAZE – Tough to win with, he was beaten a long way in this contest last season. Conditions will suit but has shown the best of this form at a lower level to this, makes limited appeal.
13 LAUGHARNE – Best form has all come on quicker ground, he makes his debut for Tim Vaughan here. The yard to well with new incumbents but this task looks beyond him.