Champ is a very talented novice, but Challow Hurdle winners are 0-16 in this race, while seven-year-olds also possess a very modest record. With that in mind, he is reluctantly overlooked in preference for BATTLEOVERDOYEN (Cheltenham, 1.30) who was too strong for the likeable SAMS PROFILE in a Naas Grade 1 in January.
The selection completed a rare feat that day by winning at the top level following a maiden hurdle victory and, although his education has been compacted into a small window (won a bumper in November), he is with the right trainer to keep progressing. Sams Profile, a strong stayer who enjoys soft ground, didn’t enjoy the clearest of passages at Naas and could prove a live threat at a decent price given his trainer’s record at this meeting. He looks worth playing each-way given he is closely matched with Battleoverdoyen.
Battleoverdoyen 2pt win @ 7-2
Sams Profile 1pt ew @ 11-1**
The master trainer is also well represented here with likely market leader Band Of Outlaws, Star Max and FINE BRUNELLO (Cheltenham, 4.50) all looking attractively treated for their handicap bow. Nine of the last 14 winners had won no more than once over hurdles, indeed three were maidens so French recruit Fine Brunello makes some appeal following his eye-catching effort behind stablemate Fakir D’oudairies in a fast time on Trials Day in January.
Fine Brunello 1pt ew @ 11-1
The bumper won by Envoi Allen at the Dublin Racing Festival featured some of the best horses in that sphere and, although METICULOUS (Cheltenham, 5.30) could only manage the runners-up berth that day, hopes are high that he may be capable of turning round the form at this track.
Envoi Allen received a fine tactical ride that day from Jamie Codd who was at pains to maximise his mount’s undoubted stamina reserves, whereas Meticulous appeared as though the whole exercise was an education as he stayed on late once his chance had all but gone.
The selection should know a lot more this time and can reverse placings.
MASTER DEBONAIR boasts plenty of track experience and is another to consider for a team that won this with Cue Card. He displayed tenacity and a grand will-to-win when obliging at the Prestbury venue in November and he also makes some appeal at an attractive price.
Both catch the eye on the speed figures.
Meticulous 1/2pt ew @ 9-1
Master Debonair 1/2pt ew @ 14-1
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