Workbench won this same race convincingly last year off a four pound lower mark but doesn’t look good value to repeat that, while Theatre Flame will find this field much tougher than his previous two chasing starts in Novice company. RAVEN’S TOWER ran well for a long way over hurdles last time out at Worcester and down in weight back over fences has every chance following a short break.
1 LORD BEN – Carries top weight off his mark of 140 and hasn’t won since September 2014 despite 11 attempts. Has largely been campaigned over hurdles but was tailed off last in Ireland before being bought by and moved to Dai Williams in the UK. Ran respectably off his far lower hurdles mark last week but still looks weighted to his chasing best.
2 NOTARFBAD – 10 year old with 4 wins from his 17 chase starts with two of those coming in July and August. He failed to complete the hatrick turned out quickly and has been put up 6 pounds but was a Listed Chase winner back in August 2014 before an injury in 2015. Now at a career high mark but should be competitive.
3 RAVEN’S TOWER – The youngest horse in the field, won 3 times over Hurdles and has a win and two seconds in his 6 chase starts so far. Ran well for a long time over 2m 4f at Worcester over hurdles last time and then given a break. Has shown he can go well fresh and back down in trip has every chance.
4 PURPLE ‘N GOLD – 60 starts despite being just 7 years old across both flat and jumps but has been badly out of form on his last two starts being beaten big distances. Drops back in trip here but found this trip too sharp on his previous attempts (4th at Southwell and 2nd in this race last year included) and should find one or two better suited to it.
5 WORKBENCH – Has fallen 9lb in the weights since a good run of form this time year when following up a win in this race with a second and third at Cheltenham but has been out of form over the bigger obstacles in tough contests. Could bounce back here with his course form but this year’s contest is tougher.
6 THEATRE FLAME – The least exposed in the field with just two Chase starts, he’s been a runner up on both occasions. Sports first time cheekpieces but steps up from novice company to contest against older horses for the first time over obstacles and – despite being off a reasonable mark – will find this tougher. Struggled in his last Class 2 contest (that was over hurdles) and his trainer has started the season quietly.