IN SUMMARY: Decent cases can be made for all seven runners in what looks a very interesting race. The most appealing one at the prices is FAGO (10/1), who returned from a break with a very good second in a Listed handicap at Wetherby in October, form that was well advertised when the winner (Wakanda) was successful twice again at this level. Double Shuffle ran an excellent race when placed in the novices’ handicap chase at last month’s Cheltenham festival and is second choice. Firth Of The Clyde is getting rather long in the tooth now and races off a new career-high mark today, but he comes here in excellent form.
1 Firth Of The Clyde – Finished second in this race last year and has been in excellent form since fitted with blinkers for last two starts, winning at Sedgefield (2m3f, good to soft) and Carlisle (3m, good to soft); runs off new career-high mark today but dangerous to ignore in current mood.
2 Fago – Not seen since finishing fourth over the big Aintree fences in December but was very good second to a dual subsequent winner at Wetherby (2m3f, soft) in October and today’s 2lb higher mark is manageable if he’s in the same form here; tongue-tie added.
3 Double Shuffle – Opened account over fences at Ludlow (2m4f, soft) in December and bettered that performance when very creditable third in novices’ handicap chase at last month’s Cheltenham festival (2m4f, good to soft); afforded plenty of respect off 3lb higher mark here.
4 Definitly Red – Runner-up to subsequent Grade 1 Cheltenham festival winners in two novice chases this year (both over 3m on heavy ground); disappointed in the 4m event at the festival himself and isn’t sure to be suited by today’s drop back in trip, but still enters calculations.
5 Full Shift – Only had four runs over fences and has disappointed on two occasions, but won at Kempton (2m4f, good to soft) three starts ago and did well to finish fourth in the Plate at last month’s Cheltenham festival (2m5f, good), having made a couple of jumping errors.
6 Presenting Junior – Gained the latest of his seven wins last season in this race; has also run well in defeat a few times this term, most recently when third on ground softer than he prefers at Newcastle a week ago; gradually slipping back down the weights, but conditions aren’t ideal for him here.
7 Orbasa – Won over fences in France last year and easily took advantage of good opportunity on British debut at Fontwell (2m1f, good to soft) in February; failed to convince stamina-wise when fourth over 2m4f at Kempton last month but his recent second at Ascot (2m1f, good to soft) was a decent effort; in the mix if he sees out the trip.
myracing Forecast Prices: 11/4 Double Shuffle, 4/1 Fifth Of The Clyde, 5/1 Full Shift, Orbasa, 6/1 Definitly Red, 8/1 Fago, 12/1 Presenting Junior