IN SUMMARY: DEDIGOUT (9/4) has a point to prove after failing to justify odds-on favouritism on last month’s belated seasonal debut but he may not have been fully tuned up that day and is selected to win this race for the second consecutive year. Taglietelle run a huge race when placed off a big weight in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham festival but strongly run handicaps tend to suit his racing style better than smallish-field Graded races, and today’s drop back in trip is probably not ideal. Gwencily Berbas still has low mileage and acquitted himself well when third in a Grade 1 event over C&D when last seen in November.
1 Dedigout – Disappointing when last of three on belated seasonal reappearance at Navan last month but probably needed that outing; latest of three consecutive Grade 2 wins last year came in this race and he’ll be a very tough nut to crack if back on song today.
2 Plinth – Ought to find this a bit easier than the 2m Grade 1 events he has contested on his last three outings but is fully exposed after 26 starts over hurdles, and even his best form is below the standard likely to be required here.
3 Gwencily Berbas – 5yo who won small-field Grade 3 at Naas (2m, soft) on seasonal debut in November and gave very good account when third (albeit no match for Arctic Fire) in Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace over C&D three weeks later; back from another break today but shouldn’t be far away.
4 Sort It Out – Creditable second in last year’s Country Hurdle (2m1f, soft) at the Cheltenham festival and went one better in another valuable handicap, at Punchestown (2m4f, soft) a few weeks later; disappointed when back in action in December, though, and has a bit to find with the principals here.
5 Taglietelle – Won a valuable 3m handicap at last year’s Aintree festival and posted new career-best performance when close fourth under big weight in Pertemps Final at Cheltenham this month; down in trip today and doesn’t want this to become tactical, but still commands respect.
6 Marchese Marconi – Not beaten far when fifth in Galway Hurdle last summer but was running off a mark of 138 that day and faces a much tougher assignment on today’s terms; fourth past the post (subsequently promoted to third) in a novice chase when returning from absence last month.
7 Sheamus – Made very promising start to hurdling career when winning twice over C&D in autumn 2014 but wasn’t seen again until finishing last of nine at Leopardstown (2m2f) last month; entitled to have benefited from that outing but others have more pressing claims.
8 Value At Risk – Fell in first two chases this season and was comfortably held when returned to hurdles in January; got career back on track when second in good-quality handicap at Huntingdon (2m3f, good to soft) last month and has scope to make progress, but needs to improve to cope with today’s rise in class.
myracing Forecast Prices: 2/1 Dedigout, 7/2 Taglietelle, 4/1 Gwencily Berbas, 6/1 Value At Risk, 10/1 Sort It Out, 12/1 Marchese Marconi, 16/1 Sheamus, 25/1 Plinth