IN SUMMARY: Isaacstown Lad has plenty going for him in a race in which all his rivals have something to prove but his last couple of runs, though perfectly respectable, suggest he’s a shade vulnerable off his current mark. Therefore, the suggestion is a speculative interest in SPANISH FLEET (14/1 Each Way), who has disappointed on both his starts this season and untested beyond about 2m5f but loves this track and has dropped to a tempting mark. Pistol won twice here last month but his stamina also heads into unknown territory today and his form is nothing to get too excited about.
1 Gevrey Chambertin – Back on song with convincing win at Lingfield (2m3f, heavy) in December and will also be suited by today’s trip but his form has slumped again on his three starts this year; current mark not beyond him but it’s hard to predict whether he’ll warm to the task.
2 Isaacstown Lad – Made excellent progress in 2015, winning four times, and has began 2016 with two decent efforts, more recently when third at Haydock (2m7f, heavy) 19 days ago; the handicapper appears to have his measure now, but he stays well and has much less to prove than some of these.
3 Cloudy Copper – Looked highly promising when winning two novice hurdles during 2012/13 season but was on the sidelines for 23 months afterwards and has generally been disappointing over fences since returning to action; however, handles heavy ground and today’s return to hurdles might enable him to get career back on track; tongue-tie now added.
4 Knock A Hand – Likes this track and is suited by heavy ground but has been well below best form over fences this season; might be perked up by a change of headgear but hasn’t raced over hurdles since 2013 and has quite a bit to prove.
5 Spanish Fleet – Soundly beaten on belated seasonal reappearance in January and was also disappointing when making chase debut in first-time cheekpieces last month; comes here with questions to answer and is not bred to benefit from today’s step up in trip, but is a triple course winner (2m-2m3f) who has slipped to a handy mark and could be worth chancing; blinkers given a try this time.
6 Pistol – Gained wide-margin course win (2m1f, heavy) last month and battled gamely to defy 14lb hike up the weights over 2m3f back here 12 days later; now another 4lb higher and has stamina to prove over this trip, but at least we know he’s in excellent nick.
myracing Forecast Prices: 2/1 Isaacstown Lad, 4/1 Cloudy Copper, 9/2 Gevrey Chambertin, Pistol, 7/1 Knock A Hand, 10/1 Spanish Fleet