A competitive stayers hurdle containing plenty who aren’t the most consistent but with a number of front runner this could at least be run at a sound clip..
IN SUMMARY: Three last time winners in here but none of them appeal as natural candidates to follow up given doubts about a soft lead/handicap mark and stamina respectively. Horseguardsparade may finally get his head in front now handicapping and stepped up to a trip that looks likely to suit but a chance is taken on Kim Bailey’s PATSYS CASTLE. A hat-trick of wins in 2014 would leave him thrown in off a mark of 105 and a return to hurdles looks a smart move after he lost his confidence over fences. The Chuckmeister is almost the outsider of the field but is worth a market check off what could prove a lenient mark for one so unexposed.
1 For ‘N’ Against – Arrives in good heart having won twice in his last four starts, both those wins have come when given a relatively soft time of things on the front. He has looked a little bit of a weak finisher in the past when held up so clearly the more forceful tactics have been beneficial, there are however a few others who like to be up with the pace so he may not get a soft time of things back over hurdles from a career high mark.
2 Decimus – Never exactly renowned for consistency but has always won his share and finds himself back down to his most recent winning mark. He is a strong stayer so could do with a decent pace and to that end, he ran his best race of the season when able to set the fractions at Newton Abbot in July. Certainly capable of winning this on a going day but comes with plenty of risks attached.
3 Beneficial Joe – Off the mark stepped up to 2m7f for the first time at Worcester when last seen, That didn’t look the deepest maiden hurdle but the 2nd and 3rd have both won since so it’s hard to knock the form too much. He was well beaten off a mark of 112 the time before though on his handicap debut so a mark of 117 is going to demand considerably more.
4 Bold Conquest – 3rd in this race last year from a pound higher mark, he is another for whom a strong pace would be beneficial as he doesn’t do anything quickly. Arguably his best effort in Ireland came on his only other start in cheekpieces so it will be interesting to see what way he moves in the market.
5 Horseguardsparade – Looked rather one paced on the flat when campaigned over 14-16f and it’s not been a surprise to see similar over a relatively sharp 20f now that he has gone hurdling. The step up in trip might be the making of him but a winner of just one of his fourteen starts, he looks no better than fairly handicapped off an opening gambit of 115.
6 Presence Felt – Two solid placed efforts of late at a similar level, following up a 2nd at Southwell with a 3rd at Uttoxeter. He’s up 5lbs for those efforts and while he has been placed off similar marks in the past the percentage call is to take him on when he is this far up the weights.
7 Royal Battalion – A 575,000 guineas, Sea The Stars half brother to 1000 Guineas winner Legatissimo, it’s fair to say that he has not lived up to his regal pedigree. Both of his career wins have come at Fontwell and in the care of Gary Moore he is the right hands to score further successes at the Sussex track. He didn’t look to stay this trip last time he tried it and could find this a little more competitive than he cares for.
8 Sinbad The Sailor – The old timer of the party scored at Huntingdon back in May but a rise in the weights was beyond him last time when behind Presence Felt. The cheekpieces that were on that day have been dispensed with now but it’s hard to see him playing more than a minor role.
9 The Chuckmeister – Beat the 130 rated Mystical Knight when winning a point to point in Ireland before keeping warm company in a trio of maiden hurdles in the early months of 2015. He has subsequently failed to take to fences with a pulled up and a pair of falls in three starts. Chris Gordon does well with ex Paul Nicholls inmates and the return to hurdles looks a smart move and although the yard have had a quiet summer, he’s worth a market check.
10 Patsys Castle – Another back from an aborted spell over fences having failed to produce a run within half a stone of his best over the bigger obstacles compared to his peak over hurdles. He was well backed last time but again failed to show the form he showed when rattling up a hat-trick in 2014 but he’s well worth a chance to click again back over hurdles off a mark that would be extremely generous on that 2014 form.