IN SUMMARY: In a competitive race, the suggestion is AYALOR (9/2), who looked the likely winner for a long way when making his stable debut after a very long absence last month and remains very lightly raced. Spencer Lea also made a very pleasing return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines when winning for his new stable last month and is feared most. Le Boizelo and Doctor Look Here both need to prove they can cope with some stern treatment from the handicapper but, along with Bon Enfant, they also have appealing profiles.
1 Bells ‘N’ Banjos – Displayed improvement when eased-down winner of handicap debut at Fontwell (2m5f, soft) in November but was tailed off when bidding to overcome significant hike up the weights at Kempton on Boxing Day; remains lightly raced but comes here with a point to prove.
2 Bon Enfant – Ended 2015 with two soft-ground novice hurdle wins and was a long way clear of the third when close second on handicap debut here (2m4f, soft) last month; hit with 6lb rise for that but could easily have more to offer.
3 Cadoudoff – Came good over fences at fourth attempt, with clearcut success at Huntingdon (2m4f, soft) in January, and reverted to hurdles with another decent effort when third at Wincanton (2m5f, soft) last month; evidently in good heart, and shouldn’t be far away.
4 Le Boizelo – Won over hurdles in France last summer and built upon mildly encouraging British debut when scoring by 19l here (2m4f, heavy) last month; 10lb higher in a stronger race today but it’s hard to gauge the limit of his ability.
5 Suit Yourself – Left poor hurdling debut behind when ready winner in first-time tongue-tie at Carlisle (2m1f, heavy) in December; looked rather laboured when a beaten favourite at Towcester (2m, soft) last month but retains the potential to make further progress now upped in trip for first handicap.
6 Ayalor – Off the track for 22 months after winning hurdle debut in France in 2014 but made very promising reappearance for new stable when close second in Chepstow handicap (2m3f, heavy) five weeks ago, and will be a very tough nut to crack here if coming on for the run; tongue-tie added.
7 Ballycross – Gave very good account when fifth in Grade 2 event at Cheltenham (3m, soft) in December, his third start over hurdles; left behind by clear winner when second at Leicester (2m4f, heavy) later that month but ought to be competitive on today’s handicap debut.
8 Little Boy Boru – Seems very one-paced and has been comfortably held in hot handicaps on last couple of outings; however, will appreciate today’s drop in class, has slipped to a workable mark and copes well with heavy ground; no surprise if he plugs on to collect a minor prize.
9 Spencer Lea – Won for another yard in 2014 and bettered that form when successful for new stable after very long absence at Market Rasen (2m4f, heavy) last month; up in class here but booking of Richard Johnson suggests another big run is expected.
10 Doctor Look Here – Runner-up in big field on handicap debut at Exeter (2m2f, soft) in November and took another good step forward when readily quickening clear to go one better at Taunton (2m3f, good to soft) the following month; latest 13lb rise asks a lot of him, though.
11 American Life – Thorough stayed who capitalised on sliding handicap mark at Haydock (2m7f, heavy) in late December; been kept busy and has remained in good form since then, but is up in class here and others have more pressing claims.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Ayalor, 11/2 Bon Enfant, 6/1 Suit Yourself, Spencer Lea, 7/1 Le Boizelo, Doctor Look Here, 10/1 Ballycross, 12/1 Cadoudoff, 14/1 Little Boy Boru, 16/1 Bells ‘N’ Banjos, 25/1 American Life