Some pretty decent sorts have won this over the years including the ever-popular Rock On Ruby back in 2011 and L’Ami Serge last season for Nicky Henderson who was winning it for the fourth time. This year the stable rely on Omessa Has (3/1) who is at least of some interest off a rating of 135 and with Jeremiah McGrath booked to ride. Yet another French import, he has only had the one run in the United Kingdom when a ninety-four length ninth of ten at Cheltenham in a two and a half mile handicap last April when a well backed 13/2 chance, weakening quickly and she could be more than a little interesting dropped back in trip off what could well prove to be a very lenient mark.
Sternrubin took this contest last season for trainer Philip Hobbs and he can follow up with recent winner Ozzie The Oscar (7/2) who took a novice hurdle at Wetherby by six lengths pretty easily last month and he has only been put up a generous looking two pounds. That was his fourth win from five starts over hurdles which is a pretty impressive record and as a novice he has plenty of room to go on from that with more experience. The stable are in decent enough form with nine wins in the last two weeks and there is every chance that Richard Johnson will be in the saddle which is always a bonus, and he certainly won’t go under here without a fight.
Paul Nicholls has decided he is going to rely on Tommy Silver (8/1) from his original entries though he does need to build on a fifth to Garde La Victoire at Ffos Las. Although sent off a well supported 3/1 chance he ran as if he needed the race fading badly close home to be beaten seventeen lengths at the line. His earlier form is a lot better and included a seventh in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and a three-quarter length third to Wolf Of Windlesham at Sandown and if his handler can get him back to that sort of form then he has an excellent chance of success today.
Theligny (10/1) arrives here as the in-form option after winning three in a row already this season but that doesn’t’ make him a good thing as the handicappers have already noticed his improvement. After bolting up by fourteen lengths in a maiden hurdle over two miles five at Kelso he was given a rating of 120 which made no difference as he ran in a novice hurdle at Huntingdon over two miles three and a half furlongs and followed up over the same trip at Lingfield in his first handicap off a mark of 122 by a length after making all the running. Up another five pounds this afternoon he will still get to carry a very low weight in this field but whether he has the speed to skip his field over this reduced trip is very much open to question.
Lastly, it can be folly to ignore any runner from the Alan King yard in the quality handicaps and he has Who Dares Wins (11/2) entered here though his supporters will be a little nervous after the four-year-old unseated Wayne Hutchinson at the second hurdle at Cheltenham two weeks ago. Prior to that he had finished fourth to Ballyoptic over two miles three and a half furlongs at Chepstow and may find some of them a bit too quick for him dropped back to this trip.