IN SUMMARY: Precious little chasing form to go on in this novice’s handicap but SYDNEY DE BAUNE ticks plenty of the boxes needed here. In good form after a recent win over hurdles, he has a fitness edge over most of these and looks the sort to do even better over fences than he was over hurdles with a rating of 100 seemingly workable this afternoon.
1 KING’S TEMPEST – First-time cheekpieces for the Warren Greatrex trained gelding at the age of eight after a poor thirty-eight length seventh over hurdles earlier this month. Has his first outing over fences this afternoon having peaked at a rating of 130 over the smaller obstacles and could be of interest despite top weight under Richard Johnson who is as good as it gets in the saddle at present.
2 BURRENBRIDGE HOTEL – One win from six starts over hurdles in a Chepstow maiden but he did win a point to point at Dromahane so may yet do better over fences. No sign of that on his chasing bow at Sedgefield when making too many mistakes before weakening late on but should strip fitter now after his first race in over four months.
3 TIKKINTHEBOX – Still a maiden after seven starts, one bumper and six over hurdles, and makes his chasing debut here for trainer Jeremy Scott who has had three winners in the last two weeks from fifteen runners for a 20% success rate. Gives the impression he may do better over further than this two miles in time but has the build to jump fences and could yet get involved in the finish here.
4 TORHOUSEMUIR – Two bumpers and six hurdle races without success now but was travelling ominously well at Huntingdon before falling three out and clearly has plenty of untapped ability. Half-brother Midnight Chorister won three races over fences at around this trip which is a positive and he may well be better than his current rating suggests, making him one to seriously consider in this field.
5 SYDNEY DE BAUNE – The one and only last time out winner in this field after Robert Walford’s six-year-old scored over hurdles at Chepstow last time out over a little shy of two and a half miles. That was at the end of last month so his fitness is not a concern unlike some in this line-up, and a debut rating of 100 seems fair enough and as hje has always looked as if his future lay over fences, he ought to be a very serious player here.
6 RING EYE – Two career wins on the flat at Chepstow over a mile and a half and two miles, one in July 2015 and the other in July last year. Twelve runs without success since have seen the nine-year-old move from John O’Shea to Sarah-Jayne Davies just down the road from this course but he has since unseated over hurdles at Southwell and may struggle on his chasing debut.
7 SAGE MONKEY – One win and three places over fences make him one of the most experienced chasers here though his last three runs have seen a fall at Worcester, a poor fifth at Bangor, and finally he unseated Dam O’Shea last time out over hurdles at Ludlow. Capable of winning at his best but no signs of that recently though he should be happier back on this quicker going.
8 EMPEROR COMMODOS – Nineteen races without success now, two in bumpers, ten over hurdles and seven over fences, with his best effort a four-length second over the larger obstacles at Lingfield in December last year off a rating of 105. A massive seventeen pounds lower now but no signs of repeating that run since and a well-beaten last of six at Worcester over hurdles last time out and has to do a lot better now to put in a challenge.
9 NORPHIN – Zero wins from twenty-nine starts now, but lightly races over fences with just the three starts. Two of those have been for Seamus Mullins whose horses are out of form with no winners from sixteen runners in the last two weeks and after finishing a forty-one length last of six at Fontwell earlier this month when making mistakes before tailing off he is very hard to make a case for.