15:15 Newbury Sat 4 March 2017
Disappointing last time, beaten in heavy ground when a 6/4fav and just struggling to get his head in front in recent times and not won since 2015. Having first run at this course today but he's probably a little better over shorter than this. First-time blinkers applied.
Bit of an unpredictable sort but ran well here two starts back, winning over further. Doesn't always jump well but folly to rule out if he's get into a rhythm at a course he's proven at (won here twice), and he should find this easier than the Peter Marsh Handicap at Haydock last time.
Good overall strike-rate under Rules (4-9) and won three of his last four starts (unlucky when brought down at Aintree three starts back). Likely to handle the step up in class and versatile conditions wise having won on a variety of ground over different trips ranging from 2m to 2m4f. Looks like he's still improving so should be thereabouts once again.
French recruit who ran particularly well on Boxing Day, scoring at Wetherby. Won twice at that track and this course isn't dissimilar in characteristics so should be well suited here but best performances have come on good or good to soft ground and he's unlikely to want any more rain.
Not tasted victory since backing up an Aintree win at Ascot in November 2015, though still only 2lb lower here after nine straight defeats. However, appeared unlucky not to get his head in front last time when he had to lug top weight around Warwick on bottomless ground and finishing a neck down in second. The booking of the Champion Jockey looks significant and this trip looks worth persevering with despite all his wins coming around 2m.
Probably a little better over hurdles and scored in that sphere last time in heavy ground at Wincanton. However, tends to struggle when upped in class and would only be of interest if the ground came up particularly soft.
Three wins from seven starts over fences with most recent win coming in a 3m amateur riders race at Sandown. However, jumping leaves much to be desired at times including when last seen at Cheltenham and he looks vulnerable despite being the only likely front-runner.
Promising comeback run after nearly a year off the track when 2L second to Dusky Lark at Wincanton last time. The fact he's been given time to recover after that effort should eliminate the bounce factor and trainer's horses are in flying form (yard had four winners Thursday) so he's likely to give another good account but he'd probably want heavy ground to be seen at his best.
Has some useful form but has rather underachieved over fences and given a hopeless task last time at Cheltenham, positioned too far off the pace. He's certainly a mercurial type, often jumping well but he finds little in a finish and while he's won over C&D off a 6lb higher mark, he needs everything to drop right. Wants good ground to be at his best.
Last Year's Winner
Oldgrangewood (4/1), Vic De Touzaine (9/2), O Maonlai (13/2), Vibrato Valtat (13/2), Thomas Crapper (8/1), More Buck's (8/1), Hollywoodien (9/1), Dresden (9/1), Tornado In Milan (12/1), Shadows Lengthen (25/1)
- Vic De Touzaine
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