Just the nine take their place for this listed contest in the feature race Read on for our expert’s thoughts and betting tips.
IN SUMMARY: Briery Belle is on a roll and it would be no surprise if she landed the hat-trick today. She looks to hold a few of these on recent form and will no doubt mount a bold bid for the three-timer. That being said KALANE has some good form herself and was slightly superior to the first mentioned over hurdles. She looks to be on an upward curve after bolting up at this course nineteen days ago and should be able to find this trip within her reach. There isn’t much between the two but the Amy Murphy runner just shades the vote in an interesting little race. Ex-French recruit Viky Du Reponet looks a good buy for her top yard and can follow them home on her first run in Britain.
1 Desert Queen – Decent hurdler winning up to Class 3 level on three occasions took to fences in good style when scoring in a similar race at Market Rasen (Good) on his chase debut over 2m7f after being off for seven months (Kalane in fourth, Cresswell Breeze in sixth). Well beaten by Briery Belle when second at Warwick three weeks ago and fell at the third on Boxing Day in a six runner event at Wincanton. Only 1lb better off with that runner today and looks up against it off top weight against better opposition than his Market Rasen win.
2 Viky Du Reponet – Prolific winner at Auteuil when trained in France and won back to back races over hurdles (2m2f, Soft) and a handicap chase (2m1f, Good/Soft) on his last two starts earning a BHA rating of 143 in the process. Looks pitched in for his British debut but interesting recruit for top yard and one to note in the betting on his first start today.
3 Briery Belle – Smart hurdler and won a listed event for mares on her last start at Cheltenham (Good) last term. Has taken to fences well winning both of her starts so far over 2m4f in comfortable fashion including when six lengths in front of Desert Queen at Warwick (Soft) three weeks ago (Desert Queen third). Entitled to go well again and this rapidly improving mare should make a bold bid for the hat-trick.
4 Colla Pier – Won a decent handicap hurdle at Plumpton (Good/Firm) in September over the minimum trip and thrown in at the deep end when contesting Grade 3’s in Ireland on her next two starts. Sent back over hurdles for a Listed contest on her last start at Ascot (Good/Firm) over 1m7f two months ago and looks up against it in this kept to the same company now back chasing.
5 Cresswell Breeze – Decent over hurdles when landing a hat-trick last Spring on deep ground and got off the mark on her second attempt over fences when a wide-margin winner at Wincanton (Heavy) over 2m4f, looking to have held the well-backed favourite before she unseated her rider. Fair form since without winning and only fifth behind Desert Queen at Market Rasen (Good) on her latest start over fences. Drop in trip will help but should find a few too good again. Stable also run Unify.
6 Kalane – Previously trained by Charlie Longsdon and decent hurdler in her day, rated as high as 132 and managed a third behind Annie Power in the Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown (Soft) last May when 25/1. Taken to chasing well with two wins and only fifth behind Desert Queen when making her debut for this yard at Market Rasen (Good) over further last month. Receives 10lb from that rival now and made no mistake next time out on this course, when hacking up to win by seventeen lengths over 2m3f in a 0-140 handicap chase. Has superior hurdles form to Briery Belle and likely to make her presence felt in receipt of 5lb from that one. Big player.
7 Magic Money – Four time winner over hurdles but only achieved a rating of 115 and looks well held against a few of these on best form over the smaller obstacles. Up against it on chase debut and likely to be a big price for this.
8 The Organist – Got the better of the reopposing Briery Belle when a three length winner of a Listed race over 3m at this course in March on softer ground than she encounters today. That was the culmination of five good efforts over hurdles, winning four. Chasing career hasn’t been as impressive and forty nine lengths behind Briery Belle in third at Warwick (Soft) three weeks ago. Didn’t jump particularly well on that occasion and looks held by that rival once again today.
9 Unify – Has been running well over fences with four wins from 8 starts this term albeit in lesser company. This is much tougher and looks to be the stable second string with them also running Cresswell Breeze. Up against it in this company.