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JAY JAY REILLY showed fair form in bumpers and shaped very well when second on hurdling debut in a race that has worked out well at Stratford in October. He was easy to back, but built on that promise considerably when going one place better at Kempton last time, making all of the running in enthusiastic fashion before readily asserting before the final flight. That was an impressive display and he is well up to following up under a penalty. Earth Company is taken to reverse the placings with Gala de Corton.
NELSONS ROCK is a dual winner in points and showed more than previously on his qualifying run when fourth in a novice hurdle at Wincanton earlier this month. He wasn’t given a hard time over a trip which will likely prove short of his optimum, and he looks very interesting now upped signficantly in trip on handicap debut. An opening mark of 97 probably underestimates him and Harry Kimber is good value for his 7 lb claim. A big run is expected. Famoso is a danger if he can put a sub-par reappearance behind him, and Just A Whim isn’t a forlorn hope, either.
NEW TO PADDY POWER?
This might not take much winning, and it would be no surprise were ROQUE IT to make a better chaser than hurdler. He was expensive to follow over hurdles, starting odds-on for his return to action at Worcester in September, and not really building on that run on his latest start. He looks the type that will take well to this discipline, though, and hailing from the Paul Nicholls yard, will likely be well schooled ahead of his debut in this sphere. Catch The Cuban, who is hard to place maximum faith in due to temperament issues, may provide the biggest threat.
This looks a competitive handicap, so it is hard to rule any out, but GUERNESEY was edged out only in the dying strides by a subsequent winner at Warwick last week and looks the most persuasive option from an unchanged mark (due to go up 4 lb in future races). An Tailliur has been on a roll and was extremely well backed when unseating at the first flight at Cheltenham last time, and it would be no surprise were he to resume his progress now.
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Several of these have something to prove, so KIERA ROYALE looks the percentage call having returned to form at Ffos Las last time. Her last win came at Worcester in July from a 2 lb lower mark, so she is clearly on a fair mark, and she left the impression she was ready for a return to this trip last time, just not having the speed to challenge the principals in the closing stages last time. Marilyn Monroe rates the obvious danger if taking her chance (engaged at Hereford on Wednesday).
It is very hard to look beyond the progressive NORLEY from a handicapping perspective, given he is able to race from a 1 lb lower mark than when bolting up by eight lengths at Wincanton last week. That was a career-best effort from Norley who should have even more to offer, so is a confident selection to complete a hat-trick. Alberic, Kendelu and Poet’s Reflection can do battle for minor honours.