IN SUMMARY: CURIOUS CARLOS (11/4) travelled strongly under a confident ride before shooting clear to defeat Gran Maestro (11/2) at Ffos Las last month and a subsequent 6lb rise may not be enough to stop this improving 7yo from hitting the target again. Byron Flyer (9/2) and Unison also look progressive and come here in excellent form but this race is a bigger step up in class for them and the main danger to the selection might come from Kashmir Peak (11/1), who doesn’t look particularly well handicapped on his form for John Quinn but, like many others before him, might have been revitalised by the switch to Dan Skelton’s stable. Sir Valentino (9/1) produced an excellent performance to win a Market Rasen chase last time but looks quite harshly treated back over hurdles.
1 Sir Valentino – Suited by the step up to 2m3f and posted a new career-best performance to win a Market Rasen chase by 8l last month; evidently in very good nick but reverts to hurdling off a mark 23lb higher than when winning in this sphere at Leicester (2m, good to soft) in November.
2 Curious Carlos – Progressive 7yo who has won five of his last eight starts over hurdles and was far too strong for Gran Maestro when forging clear at Ffos Las (2m good) last month; will also be suited by today’s trip/ground and needs to be taken very seriously.
3 Dormello Mo – Won the Sussex Champion Hurdle in April 2015 and has generally been consistent since switched to chasing soon afterwards; however, reverts to hurdling after a couple of below-par runs over fences and needs to get career back on track.
4 Kashmir Peak – Without a win since December 2014 and been off since running on Fibresand for John Quinn in February; not obviously well treated back over hurdles but wouldn’t be the first horse to benefit significantly from a switch to Dan Skelton’s care; no surprise if he poses a threat.
5 Raven’s Tower – Won in good style over fences in November but reverts to hurdling after running poorly in a chase last month; seemingly on a tough mark in this sphere and has stamina to prove on first run beyond about 2m1f; others have more pressing claims.
6 Twentytwo’s Taken – 3-7 over hurdles after making all at Exeter (2m1f, heavy) in March; should be fine over today’s trip and further improvement possible but he was allowed to set a fairly steady pace that day and may find it tougher to dominate this stronger field.
7 Gran Maestro – Gained hard-fought win in Market Rasen Listed handicap (2m, good) last summer and bounced back from disappointing reappearance run when second to Curious Carlos at Ffos Las (2m, good) last month; will also be suited by today’s trip/ground but appears to have little margin for error off current mark.
8 Ascendant – Has left Johnny Farrelly since a moderate run over 2m at Ludlow in April; starts off for new stable on workable mark and with conditions suitable but has some questions to answer and it’s probably wise to wait for some encouraging signals from the betting; blinkers removed.
9 Byron Flyer – Opened account over hurdles in novice company at Newton Abbot (2m1f, soft) in April and, having been upped to 2m4f, has won both subsequent handicaps; raised 12lb for latest success and is up in class here but clearly on an upward curve and can’t be ignored.
10 Unison – Fair Flat-racer who is 2-4 since switched to hurdles for new stable this year, the more recent win coming at Ludlow (2m, good) last month; today’s race represents a significant rise in class and his stamina heads into unknown territory, but he could easily have more to offer.
myracing Forecast Prices: 11/4 Curious Carlos, 5/1 Byron Flyer, Unison, 8/1 Kashmir Peak, Twentytwo’s Taken, Gran Maestro, 10/1 Sir Valentino, 14/1 Dormello Mo, 16/1 Raven’s Tower, 20/1 Ascendant