This content originally appeared in the Racing & Football Outlook, which is available weekly in all newsagents every Tuesday.
JONBON can continue his progress by landing this. The six-year-old won his sole bumper last year and has looked one of this season’s best novices in two wins over hurdles. He showed a good turn of foot to complete the double in a Grade 2 at Ascot last month and that is far superior to any of the other form on offer.
UNEXPECTED PARTY has gone well in all three handicaps and looks sure to be thereabouts again. Dan Skelton’s gelding took advantage of a lenient opening mark at Wetherby in October and has finished runner-up in two subsequent outings. He was slightly unlucky to lose out at Wetherby last time out, where a final flight blunder arguably cost him victory. The way he travelled through that 2m5f handicap suggests he will enjoy this shorter trip.
It’s hard to look past the progressive TOMMY’S OSCAR in this slightly substandard Grade 2. Ann Hamilton’s gelding was twice beaten in October but has since taken his form to a new level and was a cut above his six rivals when completing a hat-trick at Musselburgh last time out. His revised mark of 156 is much the highest in this field and he might not have stopped improving yet.
Irish import WESTERN VICTORY can make a successful debut for Emma Lavelle. She was a good servant for Declan Queally and looked better than ever when adding an eighth career success at Clonmel in December, going off in front and coming clear home eleven lengths clear. New connections can get an instant return on their subsequent £80,000 investment if she matches that form.
EMPIRE STEEL has solid each-way claims despite racing from out of the handicap. The eight-year-old only lost narrowly to the progressive Striclyadancer over this course and distance in November and was still going best when falling four out at Wetherby on Boxing Day. That performance suggests he is better than his current mark and Sandy Thomson’s charge won’t be far away provided he is fully recovered from that.
PALMERS HILL has looked a chaser going places and he should be hard to beat here. Jonjo O’Neill’s lightly raced nine-year-old was well beaten in three starts last season but he was well backed when landing a first chase at Wetherby in November and had little difficulty following up here last month. He kept on well to beat Diego Du Charmil over 2m3f that day and this longer trip should suit.
This promises to be a tremendous duel between two outstanding chasers at the current prices, I would prefer to back ENERGUMENE. A setback forced him to miss the 2021 Cheltenham Festival but he easily won all four chases last winter and produced another impressive display at Cork in December, where he jumped flawlessly and left his rivals behind in the closing stages. This has long been on his radar and there could be more in the tank.
If you back any of our selections you can watch them live on the free Racing Post app or racingpost.com. Simply log in to one of your bookmaker accounts and click ‘Watch live’ on the racecards.