Eight runners go to post for what should be a truly run two mile chase. A number of unexposed types in here suggest that this could be a race to remember as we go through the season. Read on for our expert tip and guide to the runners.
IN SUMMARY: A solid pace looks likely here thanks to Nefyn Bay who, if getting the fractions right in front, could prove hard to catch. Un Prophete is interesting on his UK chase debut despite falling on his sole chase start in France. He will be well suited to this being a true test and looks a solid each way player with his recent course run over hurdles working out very well. Conections of KEEP MOVING will be disappointed that they have not yet got more out of this gelding but he shaped well at Chepstow last time before fading out of things. This step down in trip to a bare two miles may be just what he needs with another slight drop in the handicap no bad thing.
1 PRUSSIAN EAGLE – Formerly smart when trained in Ireland, including when third in a Grade 1 in February 2015. Success has come on the flat rather than over hurdles in the last eighteen months with a win and three seconds, taking advantage of a low mark. The move to Evan Williams has done nothing to halt the drop down the weights this season back over hurdles. He has fallen ten pounds on the back of just two runs and while going over chase fences may interest him, he is hard to recommend in current heart despite this weaker grade.
2 BISE D’ESTRUVAL – Already on the retreat when unseating two out on her UK debut at Ffos Las, she nonetheless shaped with promise on that occasion. She had looked a weak finisher on occasions when trained in France so the step down to a bare two miles could well be the answer. The owners tend to buy well so she is likely to have success sooner rather than later but she is a risky proposition on her chasing debut after a fall and an unseat in her last three starts.
3 BREATH OF BLIGHTY – Having run Buveur D’Air to seven lengths at Huntingdon on his third hurdling effort, connections could be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed with his performances since. He has shaped as if further than this would be ideal but didn’t finish his race off on his return over 2m5f before coming back lame last time at Lingfield. He has the tools as and when he puts it all together but he still has too many question marks for now.
4 NEFYN BAY – A winner on soft ground at Perth in July and a second on firm at Leicester two runs ago, he is as adaptable regarding ground as you will find. A pair of recent runner up efforts see him on a career high mark, nine pounds above that Perth win. He stays further than this and his front running tactics could be the way to go over this sharp track. He needs more to defy this mark but if gifted a soft lead, could be hard to peg back.
5 BIG WINDMILL – Inconsistency has been the byword for his career thus far. A point to point winner on good ground, he shaped well on his hurdling debut at this track in October. Two subsequent efforts have been hugely regressive however including stepped up in trip which should have suited. Connections quickly send him chasing which may be the making of him but he is priced up on the excellent Tom George/Adrian Heskin team rather than what he has physically achieved so far.
6 KEEP MOVING – Has been a little disappointing since being recruited from France. He moved ominously well on the turn for home at Chepstow last time before his run flattened out, clouting the last which exasperated the distance beaten. The second that day won at Haydock on Saturday to give the form a nice little boost and down a few more pounds, this sharpest test he has faced in the UK may be what he needs to finally fulfil his potential and get his head in front.
7 UN PROPHETE – Noted plugging on to good effect close home this season, including at this track over hurdles. He hit the front here but didn’t quite have the pace to hold off the nippier Goal close home. That horse has followed up since at Taunton to give some substance to the form (the 3rd and 5th have also won since) and Venetia Williams’ horse has the size to do better over fences. He didn’t jump with any great alacrity on his sole start over fences in France however, but that was back in 2014 and he has matured since.
8 DEADLY APPROACH – Shaped ok to a point on his chasing debut when third to Top Notch at Warwick but failed to back that up when never really travelling at Hereford last time. The ground was very soft on that occasion which may not have suited, the pick of his efforts over hurdles coming on a sounder surface. Soft ground will be the order of the day again and he is best watched until finding a better surface in the Spring.