A novice chase to start the day and one that has any number of interesting options for us to choose from. As things stand it looks as if the unpronounceable Double W’s (11/8) may even go off favourite for Malcolm Jefferson after the six-year-old won his last outing over two-miles at Carlisle. That was the first time he had been over fences in public and he was pretty impressive to be fair, but that was a good seven pounds better than anything he achieved over hurdles so either he is much better over the larger obstacles – or the form is over rated. If it is the improvement the betting suggests then he can only go on form here and could well be pretty useful and it will certainly be interesting to see if his jumping holds up in what looks a tougher and more competitive race.
Fou Et Sage (6/1) has had an interesting career coming over to France to join Dan Skelton before moving back to France and he is now back in England with Harry Whittington for his first run since finishing second in a Listed chase at Craon. He was rated considerably higher over hurdles than the 135 he is lumbered with here and if he can transfer that form to the British fences this afternoon he could be more than a little interesting at the prices.
Down the very bottom we have Apterix (11/1) who runs off a rating of 130 for trainer Brian Ellison. Rated up to 134 over hurdles this will be the first time he has jumped a fence in public so is a risky option for those considering having a bet and looks to have a bit to find with the better horses here.
With a rating of 140 here Martin Keighley’s Solstice Star (4/1) has to carry top weight as he makes his public debut over the larger obstacles. His hurdling form of five wins in a row followed by two runners up spots suggests he is a very decent beast and he has already won over £57,000 for his connections but there is a thought process that suggests he may be even better over fences. If that is the case he may well take some stopping here but then again he has got a lot of weight and if he isn’t race fit after a lay-off of over six months that may well find him out in a race that looks sure to be run at a furious pace from the off.
Talking of absences, Graeme McPherson looks set to allow Holly Bush Henry (4/1) back to the track in this race and he was last seen on the same card when four places behind Solstice Star. He failed to see out the two and a half miles that day weakening rapidly and can be easily forgiven, while the run before was when twenty-nine lengths eleventh to Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, again a run that could be seen as acceptable from a top top race. Before that he had won three in a row, two at Doncaster and one at Musselburgh and if he takes to fences he may not be that far away this afternoon with Kielan Woods already booked to ride.