IN SUMMARY: Sharp Rise has untapped potential as a chaser and, with conditions ideal, looks very interesting back over fences after a convincing hurdle win just ten days ago. However, the suggestion is WITNESS IN COURT (14/1 Each Way), who has a point to prove after unseating his rider over the big Aintree fences on his last couple of outings but is now only 2lb higher than when gaining a clearcut win in this race last year. Just Cameron wasn’t disgraced in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month and can give a good account here if his stamina holds out. Tennis Cap attempts to aid Willie Millins’ bid to became champion trainer in Britain and is also of interest.
1 Just Cameron – Quickly developed into a very useful novice chaser at around 2m in early 2015 and has run some good races in defeat this season, most recently when third at Kelso (2m1f, good to soft) 19 days ago; probably has little mark for error off current mark but looks worth another crack at 2m4f.
2 Tennis Cap – Reverts to chasing after winning small-field hurdle at Cork (2m4f, soft to heavy) last month; has sometimes lacked fluency in this sphere and doesn’t look particularly well treated by the British handicapper but is in good heart and could have a say for top Irish stable.
3 Dare Me – Old-timer who was a close third in this race in 2014 and bounced back to form to land a valuable prize at Ascot (2m5f, soft) in Janaury; subsequent defeat at the Cheltenham festival shouldn’t be viewed too harshly, but he remains on career-high mark and looks vulnerable.
4 Witness In Court – Has unseated rider over the big Aintree fences on last two outings, so his current form is hard to gauge; however, he’s now only 2lb higher than when winning this race by 11l last year and will be difficult to beat if able to match that performance.
5 Alderbrook Lad – Won consecutive starts from the front over 2m5f at Cartmel last May/June but seems to have lost his way since the autumn and was well beaten at Newcastle a fortnight ago; will be better suited by the faster ground here but still has questions to answer.
6 Filbert – Began 2015 win with at Wincanton (2m4f, heavy) but was left behind by Witness In Court when third in this race a few months later and has looked out of sorts on both starts this season, the more recent in November; needs 161-day break to have done him good.
7 Saints And Sinners – Returned from break with two fairly good efforts in late 2015, finishing third over 2m3f at Sedgefield and Doncaster, but will need to find something extra to land this prize on first outing since unseating rider at Musselburgh in Janaury.
8 Shadows Lengthen – Now only 1lb higher than when eased-down winner of Listed handicap at Wetherby (2m3f, good) in October 2014 but was well beaten in 2015 renewal of that race and hasn’t been seen since: ought to be better suited by today’s faster ground, though.
9 Sharp Rise – Had chasing career shelved after unseating rider in May but had impressed when winning his first two starts over fences and returns to this game after convincing hurdle success at Kelso (2m2f, good to soft) this month; suited by this course and good ground; leading contender.
10 Gleann Na Ndochais – Dual C&D winner in 2014 and was also successful at Carlisle (2m4f, good) in October; may not have been suited by the soft ground when below that form the following month but needs to return from 166-day absence with career-best performance to have any chance from 3lb out of the handicap in this company.
myracing Forecast Prices: 3/1 Tennis Cap, 7/2 Just Cameron, 5/1 Sharp Rise, 8/1 Witness In Court, Saints And Sinners, 10/1 Dare Me, Filbert, 12/1 Shadows Lengthen, 20/1 Alberbrook Lad, 25/1 Gleann Na Ndochais