One favourite and one joint favourite in the last ten winners and prices at up to 25/1 suggest this is not the easiest race to solve historically but Lambourn trainerNicky Henderson has won it twice in the last decade and although he has a few early entries the betting suggests Brain Power (14/1) is the one to concentrate on for our race preview. Always talked about in glowing terms by his trainer he won a highly competitive race at Sandown last time with any amount in hand after idling once he hit the front but that in turn has seen him put up just the seven pounds and with talk that he could well be a lot better than a handicapper he will need to win this as well before stepping up in to the higher echelons of hurdles over the rest of the winter.
Whether it is real money or bookmaker fear is unknown at present but Tony Martin is responsible for the next two on our list starting with Golden Spear (5/1) who is higher in the market than was originally expected. He did win his last race over hurdles in September 2015 and also scored on the flat last time out in October and could be very well weighted if they can get a little bit more improvement out of him as seems more than likely for his ultra shrewd stable.
Quick Jack (18/1) is from the same stable and can be expected to be backed on the day but flatters to deceive more often than not these days, but was beaten less than four lengths in a Group One on the flat last time out in France but may need further than this trip to be seen at his best over hurdles these days.
While we talk about Nicky Henderson we should also mention Consul Du Thaix (9/1) who sits high up in the betting for this race at the early stage, and seems well handicapped nearer to the bottom of the weights. Very lightly raced with just the four career starts he was less than a length behind Brain Power last time and meets his stable companion on four pounds better terms so it should be close though we have to mention again how much the winner seemed to have in hand at the line.
Whatever you do don’t ignore the chances of Meet The Legend (9/1), a well-liked son of Midnight Legend in the care of Dan Skelton. Connections think a lot of the five-year-old who was third to Le Prezien in a hot contest at Kelso last time out in March and will go close this afternoon if he is race fit of course after over nine months off the track.
Paul Nicholls has Modus (9/1) in here and he has been the subject of plenty of early bets suggesting the stable and connections have him ready for this valuable contest. Two runs this season have seen a good third to Sternrubin at Ascot and a second at Cheltenham behind North Hill Harvey in the Greatwood Hurdle, beaten less than a length each time but he has been put up another five pounds which will not exactly help his chances in this very competitive renewal.
Finally, Harry Fry may return Jollys Cracked It (9/1) to the fray, though it seems to be asking a lot for him to win after close to exactly a year off. He did dead heat in this contest last time out here but has six pounds more in 2016 and good as he is, it will be the training performance of the season to have him ready to win a race of this magnitude off his new weight first time out.