With £25,000 guaranteed in total prize money here and £15,640 to the winner, the racecourse executive would have expected a bigger turnout than the five declared. However, the line-up is class from top to bottom for this Class 2 prize. See our horse by horse race preview and selection for the 3.35pm at Perth on Monday.
IN SUMMARY: Theo will be popular as he looks for his sixth victory, but he has been put up a stone as well as in class and at these weights GUITAR PETE could be thrown in. His recent form over hurdles suggests that he is in good sorts. If he can transfer that back over fences today he will take an awful lot of stopping off of just ten stone two, less Ryan Day’s three pound claim.
1 HAMMERSLY LAKE – Formerly with Nicky Henderson where he won three times over fences and once over hurdles, he moved to Charlie Longsdon in June this year. He has run well in both races since, with a second over two miles at Uttoxeter when staying on after a mistake four out and a half length second over this sort of trip at Southwell last month after Brian Hughes dropped his whip, which may well have cost him the race. Race fit but up four pounds, he has a little bit to find here, but he cannot be ruled out with just a modicum of improvement.
2 MASTER DEE – A real money spinner for connections, with four seconds and three wins from just the seven starts since moving to the Fergal O’Brien yard in June 2016. He is likely to be in for another profitable season, but he may lack the edge needed in this field after having not been seen since being beaten by Zarib at Leicester in late December. His stable are performing well with two winners from just the nine recent runners (22%) and he has gone well fresh in the past with a place each time. He won’t be far away this afternoon either, though a win may be asking too much.
3 THEO – Jockey Charlie Hammond gets on very well with Dr Richard Newland’s seven-year-old and is looking for his third consecutive win on board the son of Westerner, with Sam Twiston-Davies winning three more as he racked up five wins in a row at Newton Abbot last time out. He certainly arrives here in excellent form, but has been raised an additional stone for that 21 length romp. Upped in class as well, he seems unlikely to find this anywhere near as easy.
4 NOTARFBAD – Likely to go off the outsider in this field despite Richard Johnson in the saddle, and rightly so based on recent form. He did win a couple in a row last summer over two miles and did finish a close up third over this course and distance in July, yet this field looks to be even better than that. He should struggle in this company for trainer Jeremy Scott who is without a winner from three runners in the last 14 days.
5 GUITAR PETE – A classy chaser at his peak when trained by Sandra Hughes in Ireland, with a neck second to Shadow Catcher at Cork over this trip being one of the highlights. However, he did go off the boil towards the end of last year and moved to Nicky Richards in April this year. His new trainer has kept him to hurdles and the flat in five races since, with a second to Whatzdjazz at Market Rasen in a Class 2 hurdle over this sort of trip last time out. He runs off of 11 pounds lower over fences and a full 21 pounds lower than his chasing peak of January 2016. If his new surroundings have freshened him up, he could be remarkably well handicapped here.