John Ferguson won two of the last three renewals of this race but he has quit the training ranks to head up Godolphin these days so sadly that fact is of every little use to us, but Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls know what it takes to win this prize and we will start with Paul for a change. We all know they can do little wrong at present and in Diego Du Charmil (7/1) they have an entry in good form after winning at Chepstow earlier this month by a length and a quarter from Furiously Fast. He stayed on well that day and showed plenty of heart as well as speed to get up and win but he has been put up three pounds for that and won’t find this quite as simple. He did travel well throughout that day and may strip fitter this afternoon but this looks tougher and he needs to be priced accordingly which might not be the case.
Good as he is everyone know the form the yard are in and there is very little value to be found which is not the case with the Stuart Edmunds trained Cloonacool (7/1 Each Way) who is solid value at his current price. Although he tired a few races over fences last season with a win a second and two thirds from just the four starts bur he reverts to the smaller obstacles now where he has already won four races from just twelve starts and is clearly pretty useful. Those who saw his last run at Market Rasen walked away thinking he was a pretty unlucky loser as he seemed to be going better than anything before falling heavily two hurdles out and as long as that tumble hasn’t knocked his confidence at all then he can make up for it here and at a sensible price as well.
Trainer Dan Skelton is ticking away nicely with his classy string and will be expecting a big run from Ch ‘Ttibello (11/4) who was a consistent sort last season and hasn’t finished out of the first three since being sent over hurdles. His second to Altior here at Ascot almost a year ago looked good at the time and even better now with the winner going on to take the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham and then the Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. Last time out he finished third to Gwafa at Haydock in the Swinton Hurdle in May and if he can repeat that sort of form again then he won’t be far away in the finish again this afternoon.
John Constable (10/1) was only just behind Ch ‘Tibello that day and meets him on better terms here hence his place near the head of the betting, and is lightly raced over hurdles with just the six starts and two victories, one at Ludlow and one at Huntingdon. He does look to have a bit to more to find to get involved against the best of them here but has more room to improve than most and could be a surprise package though he does look woefully under-priced in the early markets.
Lastly, Newmarket trainer Michael Bell is better known for his exploits on the flat but has Instant Karma (22/1) entered here as the son of Peintre Celebre looks to land his hat-trick. Wins at Stratford and Newton Abbot started off a rating of 119 but he has to suffer a rating twelve pounds higher this afternoon and the truth is, that may well be beyond him in what we have seen so far.