HIGHWAY ONE O ONE looked better than ever when a close third at Kempton over Christmas, going for home a long way out in what had already been a well-run race, and he's capable of winning off this mark. Warthog and Spiritofthegames fought out a thrilling finish in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup over C&D 6 weeks ago and head a number of potential dangers.
THOMAS MACDONAGH faces his stiffest assignment to date but is fancied to pass it with flying colours now he finally steps up to 3m which should bring about plenty more improvement in him. Boss Man Fred will ensure Jamie Snowden's likeable 7-y-o doesn't have things all his own way as he bids to preserve his own unbeaten record, while Eva's Oskar can make his presence felt too in an intriguing race.
SANTINI wasn't overly impressive on his reappearance (had wind op since) but he looked highly promising in his novice campaign and can set himself up for a Gold Cup bid by landing this Grade 2 prize. Bristol de Mai is prone to the odd mistake but is likely to pose a threat with anything like a clean round of jumping. The progressive Slate House should also figure prominently.
FLORESSA has taken very well to hurdles and the form of her listed win at Newbury 8 weeks ago looks much stronger now than it did at the time. Last year's winner Lady Buttons is the obvious threat, though none of the others can be ruled out with confidence.
KING ROLAND is a deeply-exciting prospect and looks the one to beat with the longer trip sure to suit. Harry Senior should have more to offer, as should Time Flies By, a course bumper winner who was pitched into an Ascot Grade 2 for his hurdles debut and who seems sure to leave that form behind for his top trainer who is seeking a third straight win in this event.
The Sue Smith yard took a bit of time to get going this term but is very much firing on all cylinders now so RAVENHILL ROAD is taken to build on his Haydock success over Christmas and bag this valuable prize. Quarenta is a young chaser on the up and is likely to go well, while Dingo Dollar and Azzerti are also respected for a yard with a good record in this.
PAISLEY PARK made the staying division his own last season, culminating in a decisive win at the festival, and having extended his winning sequence to 6 on reappearance, is expected to land this race again before defending his crown in the Stayers' Hurdle. If The Cap Fits is very smart in his own right and given he's unexposed over 3m, is expected to keep the selection honest.
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