IN SUMMARY: Hartside displayed a willing attitude to prevail at Catterick last month and can get involved here too, but his current mark leaves him with no margin for error and it’s probably wise to look elsewhere for the winner. Weapon Of Choice will make a bold bid from the front if matching his performance in this race last year but the suggestion is ARTHURS SECRET (9/2), who probably would have preferred better ground when fourth in a higher-grade C&D event on his latest start over hurdles in November.
1 Arthurs Secret – Fair Flat-racer who easily won a maiden hurdle at Musselburgh (2m3f, good) in February 2015 and was very respectable fourth in soft-ground C&D handicap on latest start in this sphere (November); last month’s AW run was slightly disappointing but he still enters calculations.
2 Hartside – Battled hard to beat an in-form rival in refitted visor at Catterick (2m, soft) last month, to gain his fourth win from 36 starts over hurdles; evidently in good nick but subsequent 6lb rise probably enough to leave him vulnerable.
3 She’s Late – Didn’t appear to take to fences in four chasing attempts towards the end of 2015 and has also been well beaten since returned to hurdles for two starts this year; now 5lb lower than when scoring at Warwick (2m3f, good) 11 months ago but has lots to prove.
4 Weapon Of Choice – 0-5 over hurdles and made low-key return from absence on the Flat recently; however, ran a big race from the front when runner-up in this race last year and, although 3lb higher now, that performance makes him impossible to rule out.
5 Chambord Du Loir – Made winning chase debut in France (2m3f, good to soft) in May last year but captitulated very tamely (albeit on heavy ground) when reappearing for new stable in 2m handicap hurdle at Lingfield in December; big leap of faith required to support him after that.
6 Lord Golan – Former modest Flat-racer who won a maiden point last year and posted by far his most encouraging of three maiden/novice hurdle runs this winter when 80/1 third at Doncaster (2m, good to soft) last month; probably needs to progress again to make winning handicap debut but that’s not out of the question.
7 Poetic Lord – Quickly lost his way after winning Wexford maiden (2m2f, good) for Sandra Hughes 11 months ago and was comfortably held in selling handicap at Catterick (2m, soft) for new stable a fortnight ago; today’s faster ground is a plus, but others make much more appeal.
8 Absolute – Struggled in two Flat maidens in 2014 but, having changed hands for just £3,000, displayed promise in trio of novice hurdles for Sue Smith in the autumn; opening handicap mark no gift, but he has potential to improve.
9 Thankyou Very Much – Not seen over hurdles since pulled up at Perth in April last year but ran well in defeat on both previous outings and is still quite lightly raced in this sphere; back from absence with two fairly respectable AW runs in recent weeks and could have a say.
myracing Forecast Prices: 7/2 Hartside, 4/1 Arthurs Secret, 5/1 Weapon Of Choice, Absolute, 7/1 Thankyou Very Much, 8/1 She’s Late, Lord Golan, 25/1 Chambord Du Loir, Poetic Lord