ROCKLIFFE was an impressive winner the last time he tackled this course and distance before Christmas.
That victory came in similar company before he was given too much to do at Market Rasen last time. He’s a fair 6lb above that success and won’t mind the decent ground.
Bazarov is making his debut for the yard and jockey that won this race 12 months ago. Archie Watson has a strong record with horses from other stables, which makes Bazarov a threat.
Bocasien Desbois has been consistent off slightly higher marks and can run into the frame.
SARYSHAGANN disappointed when second at odds-on at Musselburgh last time but that was just his second run and this looks a lesser contest. He was too free which is another sign of his inexperience.
It wouldn’t take a lot more to get off the mark here. Dagian has run all three of his hurdles races at this tricky track and has cheekpieces on for the first time after a solid second in stronger company last time.
His experience of the track could be an important factor. Ace Ventura caught the eye with a solid third on debut at Market Rasen last time. This is a different test but he clearly has some talent.
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LOUIS’VAC POUCH looked a nice chasing prospect when winning on his debut over fences at Ludlow last time out. He only had three rivals to beat but did it well and had a lot left to offer. He rated much higher than any of these over timber and looks hard to beat.
Niven won well in the mud at Hexham before Christmas and put in a solid handicap effort before a more modest run last time. He needs to improve on that but it’s early days and there should be more to come. Along Came Theo is a quirky but capable hurdler and is worth watching on his chase debut.
HOGAN’S HEIGHT can defy a penalty after winning well here on his return to hurdling last time out after losing his way a little in chases. That course form is a big asset and he is capable of further improvement over timber.
Shaman Du Berlais is having just his fourth run over hurdles and has improved each time, including when beaten less than a length at Fakenham last time. He drops back to novice level from that handicap and looks the main threat.
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FIFTY SHADES is worth another chance despite being out of sorts on his past three runs. He is only six and is finally getting some decent help from the handicapper. He has an excellent jockey in James Bowen taking over and his form when second in a big field at Cheltenham in October would be more than good enough to win this.
Bright Prospect didn’t stay an extreme trip at Kelso last time and was much better at this sort of trip when third at Wetherby two starts ago. He’s on the same mark as that today and looks the main danger.
Blue Kascade needed the run on comeback at Kelso last time but was in good form earlier and is only 3lb higher than his last win, which came over 3m.
IT’S ALL ABOUT ME should have won over course and distance last time out but for a mistake at the final flight. He ended up going down by half a length and just needs a better couple of jumps today to make amends.
Loch Linnie is more than capable of winning a race like this although his form is in and out. It was in at Newcastle two runs when second over 3m and a similar effort would be good enough. Aptly Put has been dropped 1lb despite a good run at Fakenham last time and is in the mix.
LADY MASTER wasn’t far off the pace here last time and can get the better of Northern Beau who needs more of a weight drop.
CUDDLES MCGRAW had a fair bit in hand when winning at Warwick last time so could defy an 8lb rise. Night Of Sin scored well at Fontwell and is considered, although Sackett went well on his return to chasing last time and may be more of a danger.
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CHAMPAGNE WEST had talent despite being inconsistent for Henry De Bromhead and should be good enough for these rivals. The Last But One is fit from the pointing field and should run well.
ALL IS GOOD went well off this mark when third at Huntingdon last time and the breathing operation seemed to bring improvement. Windspiel is 1lb out of the weights but went well here last time and will enjoy the decent ground.
MIDNIGHT MUSTANG has been consistent since switching to fences with good win at Southwell two runs ago. He’s had a break since a modest run at Huntingdon last time and looks on a fair weight.
Nomination Game was out of sorts latest but had earlier finished a good second here and could bounce back.
BRAVE JAQ is in much the best form of these after being beaten half a length in a similar race at Stratford last time. A repeat should see him go close.
Drumlynn won a bumper for Nicky Henderson and should be capable of landing a blow in this company for new trainer Luke Harvey off the telly.
URTHEONETHATIWANT improved to win with something in hand at Kempton last time and a 3lb rise gives him every chance of following up.
Presenting Lucia ran her best race to date when sixth at Taunton latest despite meeting trouble in running.
QUIETO SOL went well when fourth in the mud here last time and may prefer this better ground off a slightly lower mark. Alminar showed promise at Chepstow latest on just his third chase and has more to offer.
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BARATINEUR has moved yards since finishing third three times on the spin in similar races to this. He likes this trip and should be right on the premises again.
Max Do Brazil came back from 10 months off to finish a good second at Lingfield and has been given a little break since. He should go well again.
THE CROONER is a French import who showed lots of promise when third on his UK debut for Venetia Williams at Warwick last time. A repeat of that would be good enough.
Khage didn’t stay 2m4f latest after winning over this trip at Taunton and could bounce back.
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GONE PLATINUM won with a bit up his sleeve on his latest chase start at Bangor last month and is a fair 6lb higher today over the same sort of trip.
He should go close, while Molly Carew can be forgiven a blunder at Uttoxeter after a good second at Sandown before Christmas.
KING ROLAND looks the best of those with experience having won his debut by 22 lengths at Uttoxeter last time. This is tougher but he is capable of better again.
Not A Nail and Mr Woody both hit the frame on debut for top yards last time despite being green and have a lot more to offer.