Pulled up on his only start in France, he obviously faced a stiff task on his debut for us behind Third Time Lucki at Kempton on Boxing Day and he found it beyond him, albeit he didn’t help himself by racing far too keenly. We think he is a lot better than he has shown, and he comes into this in good nick, but he obviously has to leave his racecourse form a long way behind him to be winning this. Hopefully, a wind op and a first-time hood will help him progress, too.
He was in great form in the summer, winning twice and just being nailed on the line in a valuable handicap at Uttoxeter in May, but he paid for that with a 16lb hike in the weights. So we think he is worth a shot in this grade for such a big pot. He is an improving 7yo who will love the ground, and obviously front-running and more aggressive tactics have made a big difference to him. He needs to improve again but the potential is there, and an easy lead would be welcome, however unlikely, here!
There has been a lot of talk about him as a lively outsider for the Stayers Hurdle, and I can see that, but this 2m3f trip is a good starting point for him on his return to hurdles. He was an improved performer towards the end of last term, finishing second in a Grade 1 over 2m4f at Aintree, and of course he ran a great race when winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month, so we have high hopes for him this season. His recent work has been as good as ever, he has great course form and so of course we are very hopeful here as he is a coming force. He handles any ground and good to soft should be okay for him.
He ran to a pretty decent level when placed at Newbury and Ludlow last season, finishing in front of subsequent winners on both occasions, so I think you have to give him every chance here on what he has shown, with the prospect of more to come.