Dive into Bay at Chepstow
Man On The Spot previews all of the televised action from Chepstow and Sandown on Saturday afternoon.
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French-breds have a terrific record in this contest, the first Grade 1 juvenile hurdle of the season, so Caid Du Berlais and Vasco D'Ycy, who both represent powerful yards, have to go on the short-list. The former had winning form on heavy going in France and was second in a Listed race at Auteuil in September when last seen. The latter arrives off the back of a win at Newbury in November and the second has franked the form since. His form looks stronger than that of Dalmo and the hat-trick-seeking Feb Thirtyfirst but Ruacana's Catterick victory is working out well. SWYNMOR also looked a useful prospect when scoring by 11 lengths on the bridle on debut at Newbury and showed he could handle heavy ground on the Flat. He gets the nod to follow up as Megalypos and newcomer Zandy Man will find easier opportunities than this in the future.
After his two novice chase victories in the spring, DOMTALINE has returned with two fine runs against useful opponents at Cheltenham and Haydock. Beaten a short-head by the 147-rated Carlito Brigante in the first of those runs when conceding 3lb, connections can't complain with a handicap mark of 139 and he should take this. William's Wishes has won his last four races spreading over two years and was an impressive winner on his return to action at Ascot. The assessor has raised him 9lb but it will be a surprise if he's not in the mix. Falcon Island hasn't been doing much wrong though he's 10lb higher than his last winning mark while the consistent King Edmund may just be a few pounds high.
Cedre Bleu will probably start favourite here but made hard work of beating Brass Tax at Ascot two weeks ago and, back in a handicap, may be vulnerable. Mahogany Blaze went close at Newbury last time but has been raised 3lb for his efforts and hasn't won a race since 2008 while Gus Macrae has looked to be in the handicapper's grip in his last two runs. Sir Du Bearn has ability but is hardly reliable and neither Cadoudalas nor Carrickboy have shown much so far this term, though are starting to look well treated. SHOEGAZER hasn't run since landing a Listed handicap at Newton Abbot in September but will love the ground and the booking of McCoy suggests he'll be fit enough to do himself justice - he gets a speculative vote.
POET, a classy performer rated 110 on the Flat, could hardly have made a more impressive start over hurdles at Newbury where he jumped superbly to beat a decent field of maidens. He looks a very useful recruit to the winter game and should remain unbeaten. Melodic Rendezvous, runner-up in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown, loved the mud when beating Royal Boy at Cheltenham and will be suited by a stamina test though the runner-up was having his first start since winning a point-to-point in March 2011 and will be expected to turn the tables. The latter's stablemate Golden Hoof has won a couple of minor races very easily and could be anything while Court Minstrel won a Cheltenham maiden before a close third in a Grade 2 there in November. The unbeaten Pendra faces his stiffest test but there's no reason why he shouldn't make further progress and only Le Reve can be ruled out of what should be an informative contest.
Both Fred The Shred and Mauricetheathlete have 7lb claimers on board and that should help on the prevailing ground. The pair clashed over C&D four weeks ago when the former came out on top but the latter is 11lb better off today and never seems to run a bad race around here. He should give supporters a run for their money again. Amigo was third on his UK debut at Sandown and is open to a little improvement while Shotgun Paddy beat Sin Bin, who runs in the opener, over 2m4f here in November and ran well under a penalty at Towcester. He has a welter burden to carry, however, and is conceding 23lb to Pension Plan, though that one's Bangor second hasn't worked out. Destroyer Deployed has claims on his third to At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham but Roger Beantown tries a new trip and looks harshly treated on what he's achieved so far. TELL ME Y was returning from a break and making his handicap debut when only beaten a short-head at Towcester in November. Unexposed, he should be suited by the longer trip and is given another chance to confirm earlier promise over timber.
Ifyouletmefinish appeared to appreciate being stepped up to 2m4f at Taunton on Sunday though today's testing ground should ensure he gets a test of stamina. A line through Petite Robin puts him very close to SOFTSONG but Philip Hobbs' charge, three times winner on the Flat in France, is progressing nicely and looks well enough handicapped for this despite a 4lb rise. Valco De Touzaine was having his first start for the yard when just failing to cope with Captain Cardington over the C&D a month ago. With that under his belt he'll take some beating on his handicap debut and The Italian Yob is improving with every run and starts his handicap career on a fair mark. Chesil Beach Boy is consistent but probably a few pounds high and Duaiseoir may be better over further.
Teaforthree beat Alfie Spinner, Universal Soldier and Our Island in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last March in a race in which was Soll was brought down when prominent. The champ keeps faith with Rebecca Curtis' nine-year-old, who had Soll behind again when sixth in the Hennessy, and he seems certain to be thereabouts. Giles Cross has finished runner-up in this in the last two seasons and goes well fresh but may have a little too much weight this time around, while Master Overseer has a 4lb penalty for his gutsy win at Cheltenham and was pulled up in the race last year. David Pipe also runs recent course winner Sona Sasta, however, while Viking Blond should reverse Cheltenham running with Monbeg Dude and will be a threat as he's already shown he handles the heavy ground. ACROSS THE BAY has a huge weight to carry on the going but, apart from that, ticks a lot of the right boxes as he arrives in good form, stays really well and will handle conditions. He was trying to give 6lb to a Grade 2 chase winner at Aintree four weeks ago so that was a commendable effort and he is probably the class act in a sub-standard renewal.
Alfie Spinner runs here instead of Chepstow and needs a thorough test of stamina which he should get. He's been surprisingly dropped in the weights after falling at the third in the Hennessy and has to be on the short-list. ROYAL CHARM was rated 145 when well beaten in a Grade 3 handicap at Kempton in February and it's a surprise to see him 10lb lower here as he's run really well on his two latest starts at Chepstow. He's handed the vote though Johns Spirit looked a smart prospect when landing a handicap over 2m5f here a month ago and the longer trip shouldn't pose a problem. Across The Bay is likely to run at Chepstow but would be an obvious threat to all if diverting here and though Tartak has fallen from grace since the days when he was scoring at Grade 2 level he's on his lowest mark since his novice season.