A tactical race beckons for this staying hurdles qualifier in which only six go to post for the £7,500 prize.
IN SUMMARY: Cloudy Too will be popular amongst punters after a stylish win in the Peter Marsh at Haydock in January and will go close on his much lower hurdling mark. Venetia Williams’s horses have been hitting top gear in the last week and it will be a big surprise if Lower Hope Dandy can’t continue the good run. He has an absence to overcome, but this lightly-raced sort looks just the type to do well in these types of races this year and should be tough to beat.
1 Moidore – Won a couple of staying Handicaps at Market Rasen and then Bangor in the spring, the first by two and three quarter lengths and then a wide-margin 15 lengths when following up (beat Lower Hope Dandy that day). His mark suffered subsequently when going up 14lb and struggled at Southwell on his last start finishing fourth of five. Needs big improvement coming back after a break to trouble the top two off top-weight, but has a place chance.
2 Island Heights – Won back-to-back races at Ayr and then Haydock in Autumn 2015, but has struggled since then in Handicaps, including in two comeback runs at Carlisle and then again at Haydock on last start on Friday. Not without a chance on the best of his hurdling form, but hard to fancy after his last two runs were nowhere near his best.
3 Cloudy Too – Won the Peter Marsh Chase on heavy ground at Haydock in January, scoring by 15 lengths to the useful Virak from Paul Nicholls’s yard off a mark of 139. Only tenth on comeback run at Bangor 11 days ago, but has dropped to a tempting mark back over hurdles today. Player.
4 Tambura – Won under today’s conditional jockey when scoring at Plumpton in the mud last year, staying on to win by half a length and has shown fair form on testing ground since. Off for 222 days and will likely struggle thrown in at the deep-end for a seasonal re-appearance.
5 Lower Hope Dandy – Only one win for this yard when winning comfortably at Cheltenham way back in April 2013. Did it nicely that day by 16 lengths and only five starts since, including two this year. Finished way behind Moidore on last start in spring, but receives weight from that rival today and the trainer has started to find some form. Big chance in this field and wouldn’t mind if it became tactical with a talented rider on board.
6 Barenice – Didn’t like this trip at all when last seen over hurdles at Newbury in the spring when finishing a 32 lengths fifth. Had shown some early promise, but massive improvement is needed to take this.