FARINET had excuses when pulled up in the Racing Post Gold Cup here on return and looked one to keep on the right side of when resuming winning ways at Sandown. He gets the vote in a race lacking in progressive types. Spiritofthegames is no doubt hard to win with but he went close in this 2 years ago and is lurking on a dangerous mark, while Coole Cody has a good record in similar events here.
CHANTRY HOUSE ran no sort of race when favourite for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day but he was one of the leading novice chasers last season and this looks a good opportunity for him to get back on track with headgear applied. Simply The Betts ran a mighty race on his third start for this yard when second off 153 in a Grade 3 handicap here on New Year's Day and rates the main threat.
If CHAMP is in the same form as when accounting for Thyme Hill and the reopposing Paisley Park in the Long Walk then it's hard to see past him. McFabulous can build on his reappearance second in the Relkeel and give Nicky Henderson's charge most to think about.
HILLCREST has to concede weight all round to some promising types, but there was a lot to like about the way he saw off the challenge of the favourite from the last over C&D last time and can maintain his unbeaten record over hurdles. Balco Coastal is another exciting novice hurdler for Nicky Henderson and is considered the main threat, ahead of A Different Kind.
WESTERN VICTORY thrived in Ireland late last year and, while her stable debut at Ascot was a touch underwhelming, she's capable of getting back to winning ways under a slightly more conservative ride. Miranda battled on well to land a handicap off 143 at Ludlow when last seen in December, so she strikes as the biggest threat ahead of Anna Bunina.
An open-looking renewal of this Grade 2 with COOLBANE BOY receiving the narrow vote. He put up a much-improved performance on just his second start for Sandy Thomson when landing a Musselburgh handicap in good style 4 weeks ago and seems sure to go well again. Bridge North remains capable of better now upped in trip, with My Bobby Dazzler also in the mix following a good effort at Cheltenham.
DEBECE shaped like a well-handicapped horse on his first start for Dan Skelton when second at Sandown in March so could be up to defying a 10-month absence. Fusil Raffles was very competitive on his handicap bow at Cheltenham despite making a bad mistake so must be considered off 1 lb lower, while Cap du Nord is potentially well treated having finished third in this off 10 lb higher 12 months ago.
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