IN SUMMARY: Howaboutnever and Present Man both appear to be heading in the right direction but BATAVIR (6/1) responded well to the fitting of blinkers when third in a good-quality contest at Chepstow in February and his subsequent defeat in a farcical event at Ffos Las is best overlooked. If the headgear continues to have a positive effect, he can capitalise on his handy mark. Bold front-runner Byron Blue has been struggling on slow ground in recent months but has slipped down the weights as a consequence and, with today’s conditions more suitable, is overpriced at around 33/1.
1 Quinlandio – Won Towcester maiden (2m, soft) for Brendan Powell in December 2014 and could easily have more to offer over this sort of trip, but makes handicap/stable debut after 417-day layoff and is entitled to benefit from this outing.
2 Batavir – Ran well for a long way when third in first-time blinkers in competitive Pertemps qualifier at Chepstow (2m7f, soft) in February; beaten favourite when second at Ffos Las (2m4f, good to soft) last month but the winner was given far too much rope that day; remains on handy mark and was a C&D winner in 2014.
3 Howaboutnever – Three wins this season, the latest on stable debut at Newbury (2m4f, soft) last month; probably fortunate that day (favourite fell when going well) and is another 5lb higher here, but could still have improvement in him.
4 Blue Atlantic – Fair Flat-racer who took well to hurdles last season; didn’t run badly when 50-1 for 2m5f Kempton handicap after absence in February but was beaten about 24l in the end and needs to build on that performance with cheekpieces back on today.
5 Kazlian – Well handicapped on old form and was running well over fences in first-time cheekpieces before falling two starts ago; reeled in fairly easily when third back over hurdles at Taunton (2m3f, good to soft) last month, though, and others have more appealing profiles.
6 Present Man – Very respectable sixth over C&D (soft) on handicap debut in January and bettered that performance when close second in first-time cheekpieces at Taunton (3m, good) last month; not obviously well treated off 4lb higher mark today but blinkers may squeeze out something extra.
7 Degooch – Won a small-field chase for Donald McCain last year but been below best form since reverting to hurdles for new stable on last couple of outings (2m5f/2m3f); may yet come good for Johnny Farrelly but needs first-time cheekpieces to give him a lift.
8 Byron Blue – Keen-going front-runner who finished second off higher marks a couple of times last summer (2m2f/3m); been struggling on slow ground since the autumn but conditions will be more to his liking today; not ruled out.
9 Fortunate George – Course bumper winner who jumped poorly when a beaten favourite on hurdle debut in November but posted a sound effort when second at Taunton (2m3f, good) last month; probably needs to progress to score on handicap debut but has obvious scope to do so.
10 Who’s Micky Brown – Came good over hurdles with massive-margin success in first-time cheekpieces at Fakenham (2m7f, soft) a week ago; up in class today and value of that form is open to question, but he enters calculations under 7lb penalty.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Present Man, Who’s Micky Brown, 9/2 Batavir, 11/2 Howaboutnever, 6/1 Fortunate George, 10/1 Kazlian, 12/1 Degooch, 16/1 Quinlandio, 20/1 Blue Atlantic, Byron Blue