An intriguing handicap chase where 8 go to post, see our betting tips and full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Preference is for SMOKING JACKET, who has shaped with promise on both his chase starts to date and with lots of improvement still expected, he should pose a huge danger for the inform Tom George team. Main danger may well be Cepage if he handles the ground.
1 STARKIE – Has been quite the mixed bag over fences and is hard to win with, returning with a pretty poor 4th of 7 at Doncaster last month (2m, Soft). Needs to find a bit more today but if back to his best has definite claims and has to be respected.
2 STRONGLY SUGGESTED – Another mixed bag who has really struggled to hit consistent form throughout his career and his last three efforts have been very flat which makes him hard to recommend. At his best he would be good enough to feature for the inform Jonjo O’Neill team but cannot be recommended in this vein of form.
3 IRISH THISTLE – Would be competitive at his best but has struggled in two chase efforts when last seen in the summer, the latest of which when all but tailed off at Uttoxeter in July (1m7f, Good). Return to softer ground is a plus but not enough to tempt today as he’s not one to rely on heavily.
4 AFTER HOURS – Only two chase starts thus far and has shaped with promise, the latest of which when a close 2nd at Exeter (2m1f, Soft). Lightly raced for his age and has lots of room for improvement, so has to be hugely respected today.
5 CEPAGE – Won a hurdle and chase in France and now with Venetia Williams after finishing 4th at Auteuil back in June (2m1f, Soft). Hard to way up but is a E160,000 purchase and has a very nice pedigree so has to be respected, but there are question marks about the ground.
6 SMOKING JACKET – Has been promising over fences thus far in three runs, winning at Stratford in October (2m, Good) and 3rd Wincanton latest (1m7f, Good). 11st 6lb looks like a good mark against these and with lots of room for improvement for the inform Tom George team, he needs to be deeply respected.
7 KEEP MOVING – Very average chaser and hurdler in France before joining Philip Hobbs, finishing 5th on stable stable debut at Chepstow (2m3f, Good to Soft). Needs to show marked improvement to feature today.
8 VERY LIVE – Off of bottom weight and has shown promise as a chaser winning twice from seven starts but hasn’t been the easiest of horses with lots of lettings on the form book. Ran well on reappearance at Lingfield latest, finishing a close up 3rd over 2m but judging by that run he’d appreciate further. Each way claims all the same if improving for that reappearence.