IN SUMMARY: SIDBURY HILL (8/1) certainly hasn’t been an instant success over fences this season but ran well over C&D two starts ago and found 3m too taxing on his latest outing. In the meantime, he has continued to slip down the weights and, back over a suitable trip, is fancied to come good today. Second choice is Native Robin, who is up in class here but made an excellent start to his chasing career when winning at Doncaster in January. The Brock Again comes with risks attached after stopping quickly at Sandown last time but is open to progress if all is well. Ballinvarrig was seemingly back in form when second at Ayr last month but appeared to lack resolution in the closing stages and is not one for a huge amount of faith.
1 Exmoor Mist – 2-5 since switched to fences this season and shaped as though well worth another crack at this sort of trip when second to all-the-way winner at Newbury (2m2f, soft) last month; had a hard race that day, though, and has 5lb rise to overcome here.
2 Houston Dynimo – Fought hard to win from the front over C&D in November and landed a valuable prize at Leicester (2m6f, good) later that month; good chance on that evidence but form has dipped in recent months and he needs to get back on track.
3 The Brock Again – 0-6 over hurdles but delivered on promise shown on chasing debut when scoring Taunton (2m, heavy) in February; weakened quickly at Sandown last month, which is a worry, but he retains scope to progress in this sphere and is unexposed over today’s trip; sports first-time cheekpieces.
4 Ballinvarrig – Generally disappointing since winning good-quality contest at Kempton (3m, soft) in late 2014 but took big step back in the right direction when close second in small-field event at Ayr (2m4f, soft) last month; it’s not easy to predict whether he’ll be in the same form here, but he remains well handicapped if responding well to a change of headgear.
5 Casino Markets – Improved to make winning handicap hurdle debut at Taunton (2m, good to soft) in November 2014; not seen again until finishing last of seven in a chase last month but a bad jumping error at the fifth fence probably ended his chance that day; remains unexposed.
6 Native Robin – Well beaten over hurdles in December but caused 20-1 surprise in big-field event when switched to fences at Doncaster (2m3f, good to soft) the following month; 7lb higher and against stronger opposition today, but goes on the shortlist.
7 Sidbury Hill – Failed to complete first two chases but his third over C&D in January was more encouraging and he also ran well until his stamina ebbed away in a gruelling 3m contest at Exeter last month; continues to slide down the weights and is well worth a second look.
myracing Forecast Prices: 3/1 Ballinvarrig, 4/1 The Brock Again, Native Robin, 9/2 Exmoor Mist, 7/1 Sidbury Hill, 8/1 Casino Markets, 12/1 Houston Dynimo