IN SUMMARY: The best of these over hurdles by a fair margin, AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR has the size and scope to make a beautiful chaser and shouldn’t be for catching on his chasing debut. Harry Whittington’s yard are in red-hot form and this six year old is currently on a mark that sees him nicely treated at his best. The main danger is No Such Number, who will be much happier returned to this trip.
1 NATHANS PRIDE – Has struggled the last twice over timber for Tim Vaughan, losing his place badly when weakening out of things at Cheltenham last time. He now drops in grade on his second chasing start, but his sole run over fences leaves him with plenty to prove. Best watched here.
2 AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR – Useful hurdler for Harry Whittington who has the size and pedigree to make a smart chaser, with his third at Chepstow in January some standout hurdling form in the context of this race. The yard is in red-hot form and he shouldn’t be for catching here.
3 VERCINGETORIX – Certainly knows his way into the winner’s enclosure but his record of 0/6 over fences does sound the alarm bells. He was always on the back foot thanks to his jumping when tailed off at Hexham last month and he is best watched here.
4 NO SUCH NUMBER – Loves better ground, as proven by a four-timer on this ground over fences back in the summer. He wasn’t disgraced on his latest start and he’ll be much happier to return to this distance. Key player with Dale Irving removing three pounds.
5 KALANITI – Bumper winner who is also a dual hurdling winner for Chris Grant, well beaten on his seasonal/chasing debut earlier this month. He was always in the rear that day and although he should come on for the run, others are preferred as this mark does demand more and he’s yet to strike in a handicap.
6 HEY LISTEN – Point to Point winner who has shown very little in five rules runs for Lucinda Russell, never able to challenge at Kelso when last seen. He now returns to fences for the first time since a fall with the cheekpieces on. Hard to rule him out but you couldn’t be confident.
7 JUMP FOR DOUGH – Won over the three mile trip when with the WJ O’Doherty yard in Ireland, making a modest start for his current yard when fourth at Hexham. Looks the yard first string but he needs to improve on that run and this trip is unlikely to bring out the best in him.
8 RUNNING IN HEELS – Only six runs under rules for this three time point winner, second over course and distance on his latest start. He’s up in grade here and does need to improve, but that couldn’t be discounted and he’s considered.