IN SUMMARY: The ITV opener can go to DREAM BOLT, who has won four times this year and gained the latest of those successes at Taunton nine days ago. He quickened clear when striking the front and is only four pounds higher here, clearly on an upward curve at present. Connections are in great form and he can land the spoils at the expense of Casse Tete, who posted a career best when scoring at Sandown last time around. He’s much higher in the weights here but he looks promising and the best is yet to come.
1 GREY GOLD – Ended last season on a low point but he made a winning return at Ffos Las in a Claiming Chase, winning by just under a length. He returns to handicaps off a workable mark on he best of his form, but this is a competitive race and he looks set to miss out.
2 CASSE TETE – Took his first British success at the fourth attempt, winning a Class 3 event at Sandown in ready fashion. He cleared away by twenty-seven lengths and makes his seasonal return off a thirteen pound higher mark. He goes well fresh though and he’s progressive, so he’s a strong contender for in form connections.
3 POUGNE BOBBI – Hasn’t gone on from a very promising win at Ludlow in February, returning this season over further when well held at this venue. He now drops in trip and two pounds in the weights, with their still being potential for better. That said, others have less to prove and this trip may not be enough.
4 POKER SCHOOL – Prolific around this time last year for Ian Williams, winning three times including this race twelve months ago. He’s on a much higher mark for this renewal but his run two starts ago at Wetherby suggests he’s more than capable of this mark. Each way claims with Mitchell Basytan claiming a useful five pounds.
5 MONBEG RIVER – Gained his first success since October 2015 when scoring at Doncaster three weeks ago, firmly in command at the finish. He’s now six pounds higher and pitched into a tougher race, but he won that latest start with authority and has sound each way claims with a repeat performance.
6 DREAM BOLT – Has won four times from nine starts this year for in form connections, gained the fourth of those nine days ago at Taunton. He’s now upped in the weights to a career high mark but he’s still on the upgrade and remains with potential. Conditions are ideal and a big effort is on the cards.
7 THEO’S CHARM – Four race maiden over fences who returned this season with a well held third at Plumpton, where his jumping was still suspect. He was last seen finishing third in a Grade 3 Hurdle, returning to fences off five pounds lower. That said, this is a competitive race and with his jumping still a question mark, others are preferred.
8 MR MEDIC – Won two starts ago at Exeter and despite a fifteen pound rise, he wasn’t beaten far at Newbury last month. That was a competitive race for the grade and a drop back in trip looks to be in his favour. Softer ground is a question mark, but if handling it he’s a live contender under James Best.
9 VOLT FACE – Six race maiden over fences who was fourth at Kempton on his latest start, well held in a weaker race than what he faces today. He’s a possible pace angle into the race but needs a career best by quite some margin to be winning this. Shouldn’t be good enough to take this.
10 UN BEAU ROMAN – Doesn’t win very often and hasn’t managed to get his head in front since a surprise victory at Cheltenham in November 2016. He was well held at that same venue on his latest start off three pounds higher, now upped in distance. He’s well treated on the best of his form, but others are readily preferred on the basis of his current form.
11 RED DEVIL STAR – Course winner who was outbattled by a game rival at Sandown two weeks ago, beaten by half a length. He’s now two pounds higher and upped in grade, well beaten on his only previous attempt of this class. Needs a career best and with his improvement stagnated, others are preferred.
12 ROCK ON ROCKY – Consistent sort who tends to run his race, last seen at Newbury where he finished second behind a runaway winner. He’s a pound lower here but his record in Class 2 company now stands at 0/3 and off his current mark, others do look better treated. Needs more rain.