Sykes has been beaten off today’s mark on his last two starts and is reluctantly overlooked along with Zeroeshadesofgrey who looked to enjoy the decent ground when scoring at Doncaster.
She stays well, handles deep ground and is fairly consistent so is fancied to see off Jessber’s Dream, runner-up to Myska at Taunton, and Petite Parisienne.
Ballynagour is another horse that seems best undercooked, but his last two efforts in the Betfair Chase and King George have been lamentable, while Houblon Des Obeaux goes well at this venue but has struggled to make his mark despite having his conditions this term.
Violet Dancer overcame errors to score gamely at Newbury, while Fox Norton was well beaten behind a stablemate of L’Ami Serge in Vanitux at Doncaster.
Top Gamble drops in trip after chasing home Village Vic in a strongly-run Cheltenham handicap and looks the chief danger to the warm favourite. Captain Conan has his first run over fences in nearly two years and it is hard to know what to expect following a 25l defeat by The New One over hurdles at Haydock.
Sandwiched between was a 20-length hammering of Braavos who has won since and the only slight negative to his chance is his affinity for forcing the pace, as the presence of Sternrubin will make it difficult to dominate. For my money, his form looks stronger than that of Modus yet he is four times the price.
Affaire D’Honneur hails from a firm who have already won a tidy handicap hurdle in the same colours this week and it’s worth noting they ran a similar type in Arzal in this event 12 months ago. He may well have gone close that day but for being broadsided by a faller and the son of Shirocco could be very well treated on a mark of 132 after an encouraging performance on his UK bow at Kempton.