IN SUMMARY: A few of these deserve consideration in a competitive event but the suggestions is the 6yo NAKADAM (4/1), who made some significant jumping errors when a clear second at Ayr in February and has plenty of potential to progress as he gains experience as a chaser. Auldthunder has been in excellent form since the turn of the year, winning three times, and is second choice. Others for the shortlist are Carrigdhoun, who ran out of his skin behind Many Clouds here last month, and Mysteree, who is lightly raced over fences and seems to be heading in the right direction.
1 Harry The Viking – Runner-up twice over C&D last year and was also placed in two good-quality Haydock marathons in late 2015; comes with big risks attached after a couple of lacklustre performances but will appreciate today’s drop in class and is on a handy mark if back on song.
2 Carrigdhoun – Excelled himself when 200-1 third to Many Clouds in Listed event here (2m7f, soft) here last month and, although it would be dangerous to take that form at face value, he’s arguably fortunate to escape with an unchanged handicap mark; probably found 2m4f on good ground a bit sharp at Carlisle last time but still ran well there; one to consider.
3 Mysteree – Has won two small-field events (2m3f/2m7f) from four starts since returning from long absence this season; comes here after creditable fourth in Eider Chase at Newcastle (4m, good to soft) in February and could still have more to offer over fences.
4 Fiddlers Reel – 13yo who returned from long absence with win at Haydock (2m7f, good) last month; it’s not easy to predict whether he’ll be in the same form today, but he’s suited by this track and a 4lb rise doesn’t look excessive.
5 Chicago Outfit – Front-runner who made excellent progress in 2015, winning four times over 3m at Hexham; seemed to lose his way towards the end of last year but has now dipped 1lb below his last winning mark and his defeat over 4m on heavy ground here last time can be excused.
6 Scotswell – Bold-jumping front-runner who stays well and can be a difficult horse to pass when in a good rhythm; been well below best form on all for starts since returning from absence this year, though, and has some questions to answer at present.
7 Tikkandemickey – Went up 10lb for 18l score at Hexham (2m4f, heavy) in November and has found things tough since then; now back on that winning mark but looked rather laboured when well-held third over 2m7f here last month and needs to up his game.
8 Auldthunder – Back from break with two poor performances towards end of 2015 but has won three times in good style this year, twice over 3m1f at Catterick and, most recently, over 3m2f at Sedgefield; shooting up the weights but dangerous to ignore in current mood.
9 Nakadam – Unseated rider on British chase debut in February but was clear second at Ayr (3m3f, soft) later that month, where a final-fence blunder probably cost him victory; 6lb higher here but is only a 6yo and has potential to make significant progress.
myracing Forecast Prices: 3/1 Auldthunder, 7/2 Nakadam, 6/1 Carrigdhoun, Mysteree, 7/1 Fiddlers Reel, 12/1 Harry The Viking, Scotswell, Tikkandemickey, 14/1 Chicago Outfit