IN SUMMARY: MARLAIS has been a little disappointing of late but the way he has been stopping under pressure smacks of a breathing problem. If that is the case, a first time tongue strap could help with this mark looking workable given he split 115 and 130 rated rivals as a novice. Thomas Blossom won from this mark in October 2016, he is a stayer on the flat so with this step up in trip he rates the biggest danger. State The Obvious and Midnight Gypsy both arrive in smart form, they should both be in the mix once more, though they have both shown that form at a single track.
1 LADY OF LONGSTONE – Losing run stretches back to March 2016 but she has shown improved form of late. A pair of placed efforts have come on similar ground but over further so she is going to have to stretch these from the front at this trip.
2 SCHNABEL – Yet to score in eight starts but has shown glimpses of ability. Fourth in a better race than this at Kempton in May, he is entitled to come on for his recent return. Perhaps back right handed will help him, has an each way squeak.
3 THOMAS BLOSSOM – Winner from this mark in October 2016, he was well seen off in a pair of subsequent hurdles. Stays well on the flat so this new trip may prove beneficial. If he does improve for the extra trip, he has a big each way chance in this contest.
4 KNIGHT’S PARADE – Hasn’t won over hurdles since March 2015 but shaped well twice in the summer. Disappointing so far since returning from a break but would have an each way chance if able to repeat those May efforts.
5 STATE THE OBVIOUS – Steadily progressive form in similar contests at Worcester this season. Looks the type to improve more off a genuine pace which he should get here. The move away from Worcester where he has shown all his form is a slight imponderable.
6 MIDNIGHT GYPSY – Arrives hunting a hat-trick following smart Taunton wins. She still looked a little green last time when under pressure so there should be more to come. Requires a step forward from thirteen pounds higher but still needs consideration with conditions ideal.
7 WAY OF THE WORLD – Heavy ground has been the catalyst to his best form so far. Didn’t appear to let himself down on good to firm in May when pulled up. Off a tempting mark on his winning course and distance form but the surface is a concern.
8 MARLAIS – Smart form on his debut for this yard when splitting 115 and 130 rivals at Worcester. Stopped quickly in his runs since so a first time tongue strap is a notable addition. Conditions perfect from a workable mark, if it works he could be massively overpriced.
9 MR MAFIA – Just a 2/30 overall record, but both wins on quick ground. Five pounds higher than the latest of them, he was placed from this mark in September. Not the most consistent but he is well suited by an end to end gallop which he should receive here.
10 HOOLA HULA – Bundles of promise in bumpers and novice events, she flopped badly on her handicap debut. Form with Cap Soleil and Resolution Bay reads well in the context of this race, with the return to a quicker surface potentially suiting. Interesting contender.
11 COMBER MILL – Improved for the switch to handicaps last time, just run out of the places close home. He got a relatively soft time of things on the front end that day, he’s unlikely to get that here which may compromise his chance stepped up in trip.
12 COUGAR KID – 1/22 over hurdles, he has returned to that winning mark. That came over this trip on soft ground at Catterick but quick ground suits fine. Hard to support from a win point of view, but it would be no shock if he were to challenge for a place.
13 SIDSTEEL – Produced his best run last time when stepped up to three miles in a first time tongue strap. Stayed on all the way to the line on that occasion so the drop in trip is a concern for all an unchanged mark is helpful.
14 JOHN BISCUIT – Just 3/40 overall, he picked up his sole win over hurdles last October from this mark at Plumpton. That gives him claims if on a going day but a single good run in five efforts since suggests they are few and far between these days.
15 SILVA SAMOURAI – Ran his best race over hurdles on his first start for this yard at Huntingdon last month. Didn’t get home on softer ground when last seen, the step up in trip here should be negated by the quick surface but still needs a touch more.