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16:50 - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

This looks as competitive as ever although a few stand out as clear and potential improvers, perhaps none more so than the Willie Mullins trained, Gentleman De Mee. Twice a runner up when trained in France by Guillaume Macaire, he made no mistake on his Irish debut at Naas and arrives here, firmly in the ''Could Be Anything'' category. Possible negatives for the likely favourite are the drying ground and field size, Mullins has landed this with similar types though and taking him on looks very risky.

Those ''formerly'' trained by Gordon Elliott are hard to ignore given he has landed two of the last five renewals of the race, a record that would surely have been improved upon had Column Of Fire not tipped up with the race at his mercy last year. Folcano, Frontal Assault and Dallas Des Pictons represent Cullentra House, splitting their chances appears thankless although Folcano has no weight and would probably have more improvement in him than the other two.

Mill Green struggled to cope with the early pace in this last season and was untidy at a few of the obstacles, he battled on very dourly however and might have gone closer had his run through been a little smoother. Proven on good ground and off the same mark, he looks worth considering in the place markets at big odds.

Langer Dan hacked up in the Imperial Cup and is five pounds well in here as a result. The Skelton combination haven't had much luck so far and the drying ground has to be a serious question mark though one would struggle to entirely dismiss his chances despite this looking a deeper race.

Adjali will land a big pot once everyone has lost hope with him, fairly lightly raced, he almost always comes with the ''Good Worker'' tag although he often fails to replicate this once under racing conditions. Something still catches my personal imagination with him though this will take some winning and easier opportunities will surely fall his way before too long.

Floueur failed to shine in two starts over fences and reverts to hurdles on debut for Joseph O'Brien. Putting a solid number on him appears tricky although he is probably reasonably well handicapped and his yard know what it takes to land this.

Plenty of the others have bits and bobs to recommend but Gentleman De Mee looks as likely as any and Mill Green could well pinch one of the many places on offer (Check Terms) now returned to better ground.



written by Chris Connolly

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