IN SUMMARY: This is an excellent race for the time of year and can go to the top weight, HENRYVILLE (9/2), who is well handicapped on his hurdle form and will find this easier than the Grade 1 novice chase in which he was a very creditable fourth at the Punchestown festival last month, having travelled well for a long way. Long House Hall has only raced twice over fences and unseated his rider on the second occasion, but he impressed on his chasing debut a year ago and is only 3lb higher than when an excellent second in the Coral Cup over hurdles at the Cheltenham festival. This is tougher than the Chepstow event Ruben Cotter won last month but he got the job done in good style and the form has worked out well. The shortlist is completed by Minella Present, who needs to bounce back from a disappointing run at the Grand National meeting last month but is not yet fully exposed over fences and, given he’s owned by the Clarke family, is likely to have been targeted at this race.
1 Henryville – Returns to a handicap after very creditable fourth in 3m1f Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown festival last month, a race in which he travelled well for a long way; remains lightly raced over fences and is attractively weighted on best hurdle form; afforded plenty of respect.
2 Dare Me – Old-timer who returned to form to land valuable prize in strongly run event at Ascot (2m5f, soft) in January; subsequent defeat at the Cheltenham festival can be overlooked but he appeared to find 2m4f on good ground too sharp with fifth at Perth last month, and may do so again here.
3 Cloud Creeper – Completed hat-trick last February-April and was subsequently placed off mark 8lb higher than today’s in a Listed handicap at Market Rasen (2m5f, good); not quite in same form on either start since returning from a break this spring but reached the frame on both occasions and can’t be ruled out.
4 Dormello Mo – Generally very consistent (mainly in novice company) last season and appeared to find 2m5f on soft ground too taxing when a bit disappointing on latest outing; can bounce back and give a decent account here but doesn’t look obviously well handicapped; hood now added.
5 Long House Hall – Excellent second over hurdles in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham festival (2m5f, good) and only 3lb higher here; has very limited experience over fences and unseated rider on more recent chase start (October), but won easily on debut in this sphere a year ago and goes on the shortlist.
6 Ruben Cotter – Well beaten on first two starts last season but appreciated a drop in class when winning in good style at Chepstow (2m3f, good) last month; 8lb higher in a stronger race here but both the placed horses in that race have won since and he’s evidently in very good nick.
7 Carrigmorna King – Three wins last season, the latest when left clear at the final fence in small-field event at Taunton (2m, good) in April; comfortably held off today’s career-high mark at Newton Abbot earlier this month and likely to remain vulnerable.
8 Pair Of Jacks – Struck form and won twice in spring 2015 (2m1f/2m4f) but made jumping errors and ran poorly when returning from long absence last month; remains lightly raced and there’s every chance he can put that performance behind him, but this race is competitive and others have less to prove.
9 Kie – Now only 1lb higher than when scoring at Stratford (2m6f, good to soft) in September and ran quite well until stamina ebbed away over 3m1f at Aintree recently, where he was ridden much more patiently than usual; at his best when able to dominate small fields from the front, though, and others have stronger claims here.
10 Germany Calling – Made promising start to his chasing career last season, winning two of his first three races over fences (both over 2m, second over 2m4f in between); not suited by soft ground when a disappointing favourite two starts again and found the Grand Annual Chase too hot after a break in March; could still have more to offer but contests another strong race here.
11 Minella Present – Still quite lightly raced over fences and might have been unlucky not to land a good prize when second at Cheltenham (2m, good) in November; flopped when favourite for the Red Rum Chase last month’s Aintree festival but will be fine over today’s longer trip and would be a poignant winner for the Clarke family in this particular race.
12 Easily Pleased – Probably went off too fast at Exeter (2m3f, good to firm) 26 days ago and, in the circumstances, did well to finish third; probably capable of winning off his current mark at some stage but that might be in lesser company and over a shorter trip.
13 Such A Legend – Not beaten far when fourth of six at Southwell (2m4f, good) recently but was off the bridle quite a long way from home and never looked a likely winner; now 0-7 over fences and will need to race with much more zest to have any chance here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Henryville, 5/1 Long House Hall, 6/1 Minella Present, 7/1 Dormello Mo, Ruben Cotter, 8/1 Cloud Creeper, 14/1 Pair Of Jacks, 16/1 Kie, Germany Calling, Easily Pleased, 20/1 Dare Me, Carringmorna King, 25/1 Such A Legend