Only a small field of seven line up for this two and a half mile novices handicap chase, but there are a number in here who have the potential to be better than the current marks they possess.
IN SUMMARY: A decent race in which CLONDAW DRAFT can continue to confirm the impression he made as a novice hurdler back in 2013. Connections patience was rewarded last time at Bangor and he looks well up to going in again. Both Druid’s Folly and Sand Blast have the ability if on a going day but a bigger danger could be the Brendan Powell trained, Polkarenix. He has travelled sweetly on a number of occasions, dropping a long way in the weights and could be dangerous on the off-chance he has had a breathing op.
1 CLONDAW DRAFT – Looked a potentially smart recruit when sent over hurdles in 2013. He has been plagued with injuries since but connections have been patient with him, allowing him the time he needed to heal, rewarded when he won at Bangor in January. That was only his second start since February 2015 so he is entitled to still come on plenty for the experience where he looked a little tired close home. The soft ground is a slight question mark but this sharp track looks tailor made for this front runner. If he can get into a rhythm out in front, he is going to be difficult to claw back.
2 DRUID’S FOLLY – Looked a novice hurdler with some potential last season when an easy winner at Towcester in November. He didn’t really go on from there but went off a well supported favourite on his chasing debut at Worcester on Wednesday. A shuddering mistake at the seventh fence on that occasion appeared to dent his confidence and, he was never travelling after. He is quickly turned out so there is no physical problem but he is hard to support so soon after that experience, which may still be clear in his memory.
3 SAND BLAST – A runner up six times in his eleven starts so far, doing his best to throw away the Worcester race he claimed victory in when having to be kept right up to his work when looking to have his own mind about things. The step up to the bigger obstacles might have the desired effect to keep him focused on the job he is meant to be doing. The ability is there but his attitude has left a bit to be desired on a number of occasions so he is passed over in favour of one more straightforward.
4 POLKARENIX – Has got to be a frustration to connections as regularly, he has travelled in his races as if he is a horse with plenty of ability. He has stopped quickly each time push has come to shove however and it would be interesting to know if he has had a breathing op in the 83 days since last he was seen on a racecourse. The market is going to be a good guide to his chances, now twenty five pounds below the mark he arrived in the UK with.
5 MANGO CAP – David Pipe did well to coax a win out of this horse back in September 2016 at Perth. His efforts since that three mile triumph have been generally regressive, including on the two starts he has made for new trainer, Matt Sheppard. He is well handicapped at his best but, he is hard to support with any confidence in his current frame of mind.
6 AGREEMENT – Eleven pounds out of the handicap is going to make this a very difficult task for the Nikki Evans trained gelding. Massively flattered to get beaten only six lengths by Roman De Senam on his chasing debut, he was firmly put in his place on his only other outing over the big fences. Is going to need the principals to encounter serious issues to get home in front.
7 WHOS DE BABY – All four placings under rules have come at this track so another visit here is no surprise. This would be a deeper grade than he is used to however and he finds himself fifteen pounds out of the handicap here. A seven pound claimer reduces some of that and first time blinkers are an interesting addition, but he is likely to need to produce a career best by quite some distance to play a hand.