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Last seasons gold cup runner up, Minella Rocco made only a satisfactory return when a well beaten fourth at Punchestown last month. Quite what to expect from him today is open to question though he really ought to strip much fitter and is a big player on all known form, a genuine pace would further enhance his chances so respect is a must. Vicente looked out of sorts last term before bouncing back with a gutsy victory in the Scottish National, he has a bit to prove first time up but along with Doing FIne, the pair have enough form in the book. Three Faces West must overcome a lengthy absence but he was highly progressive when last seen and his trainer excels with similar types, the rest have a bit to prove so a chance is taken on Minella Rocco shrugging off top weight and having too much class.



Starchitect almost always arrived on the scene in similar races over hurdles a few seasons back and had been strongly fancied in similar hot chases last term without really managing to land a serious blow. Still unexposed in this sphere Tom Scudamore gave him a no nonsense ride on his return at Stratford and he did the job nicely, off 4lbs higher today he makes appeal as an improver and is handed the each way vote. Tully East won here at the Cheltenham Festival last season and is another worthy of respect, a good jumper in the main a big run is expected. Foxtail Hill is another winner here and his front running style appeals, he along with Kylemore Lough, Le Prezien and Ballyalton are respected best of the rest.



Victory Bond got the better of Boynton when the pair clashed at Chelmsford in October and the pair look likely players once more, the latter looks like he’s been aimed at this so slight preference is for him though both hold serious claims. Battalion has a listed success over track and trip to his name and would be a serious player if reproducing that today, despite that he ran stone last when last seen and has serious questions to answer today. Ayrad is a two time winner on the turf and is interesting on his all weather debut, his trainer has been in good form of late and a chance will be taken that he handles the surface.



KK Lexion made an eye catching return third here last month and has every chance if lasting out over this longer trip, a strong traveller he probably wants playing late in the day but he looks to have a pot like this in him and he has every chance. Thomas Campbell was heavily backed here the last day and made no mistake when winning with ease, a classy looking sort he is taken to back up that victory and has the services of a top seven pounds claimer. Anteros caused an upset when dotting up in this last term and is another to consider along with Rocky’s Treasure and Dell’ Arca.



Spring Loaded had a fruitful campaign on the turf and scored in devastating fashion when landing the Portland, since then he has twice looked a little unlucky as to how the races has panned out but he has claims here. Magical Memory is another capable turf winner, should he handle this artificial surface he would have every chance however, he has a poor draw to work from. Mythmaker is well drawn and finished second in this last season, he looks certain to give it a good go though everything is passed over in favour of Spring Loaded who is two from two here and will almost certainly get a good toe into the race. 



This looks almost impossible to decipher so a chance will be taken on the consisten, Follow The Bear proving good enough for some place money. Encouraging when third on his return at Worcester he will likely find this tougher though the form of that effort was boosted by the second scoring last time and at the odds, given his profile he gets the verdict. Diable De Sivola hasnt won since scoring on his debut, he has run well in the main however and makes appeal from a yard who know how to land these types of races. Red Indian and Vivas make appeal as potential improvers this term, a comment that also applies to Stamp your Feet although this has the look of an anything winning type of race.


written by Chris Connolly


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