Handicap debutant East Street may well go off as favourite for this race having ran solidly in both his novice hurdle starts for Sue Smith. However, in those races he didn’t appear to be holding much back and I would say his opening mark would be high enough.
Shoughall’s Boy has improved massively in recent starts winning two on the bounce up at Hexham. He will have to prove that he is as good on better ground though and this is enough of a reason for me to go against the hat-trick.
Quest For Life appears massively overpriced for this race. The veteran has won off a 7lb higher mark in the past and capable jockey Alan Doyle takes off another 7lb today. He still retains his ability as he showed when third to Earlofthecotswolds in November - form which has been since boosted and he sports the first time blinkers today which could extract more improvement. He will hold no fears for the ground, trip or the track and I’m tipping him each way at a massive price.
QUEST FOR LIFE (E/W)
Full Of Light will be a very popular selection for this event to continue Nicky Henderson’s fine form. The way he won over course and distance last time out on his handicap debut suggested there may be more to come from him and it would be no surprise to see him follow up.
Technological has been placed on both his hurdle starts, though the last run after 517 days off the track was particularly impressive. It’s possible that the step up in trip may bring about improvement for him but he’s best watched for now off his opening handicap mark which appears too high.
Vorashann has returned to a nice mark following a few sub-par runs on soft ground. He had a good flat run in January and looks primed to play a big part here dropped in grade. He does have to prove that he wants this far but that’s a chance I will be willing to take at his odds with Niall Houlihan taking 3lb off his back.
Gaot has been very difficult to win with since crossing the channel. She has been placed on many occasions over hurdles without breaking her duck and though she has dropped to her lowest mark yet, it’s likely she will need more here today and I would doubt whether a pace track like Plumpton will play to her strengths.
Bella Beau is another maiden who has been going close as of late. She ran a fine effort over course and distance last month and has looked like a win might not be too far away. Tom Buckley’s 5lb claim will help things here but she doesn’t represent good value vying for favouritism with Gaot.
I would prefer to take a chance on Amolvi. She is fairly lightly raced for her age and has raced mostly on heavy ground, although running on good ground for the first time in two and a half years last time out at Catterick, she produced a good performance staying on for fourth and finishing her race off well. I fully expect her to be involved in this fairly weak race and as a course and distance winner off a higher mark than she races from today, I’m tipping her to build on that performance last time.
Derek Shaw is double handed in this race with Amazing Amaya and You’re Cool. The latter got the better of the mare last time although Amazing Amaya was perhaps a little unlucky, with not getting the clearest passage through.
Thegreyvtrain has the services of Hollie Doyle and was also a winner last time out. That was a weak classified stakes though and she will find life a lot tougher returned to a handicap today.
I’m siding with Amazing Amaya to get a clearer run this time and with a 3lb weight pull from last time along with a better draw, I’m tipping her to gain her revenge in this contest.
AMAZING AMAYA (WIN)
written by Tom Bates