No More Heroes is a duel Grade 1 winner over fences this term and jumped superbly at Leopardstown last time. He will be difficult to beat if finding the same rhythm at his obstacles although, like More Of That, he must overcome the stat that only one of the last 50 winners hadn’t run in the calendar year. BLAKLION and VYTA DU ROC are two tough and durable rivals to the main protagonists.
The former has plenty of track experience and stays well, while Vyta Du Roc relished the step upto 3m at Ascot and remains on an upward curve. He was unlucky in the 2m5f novice hurdle 12 months ago when a blunder at the last ended his chance.
The former has been aimed at this race all season and won smoothly at Punchestown, while the progressive Politologue represents last year’s winning connections and warmed up for this with an Exeter romp. Arbre De Vie is an intriguing contender given he hails from a top team and is viewed as very-well handicapped by his yard. He returns to hurdles after a spin over fences last time and is hortlisted.
In a very open heat, CALL THE COPS, winner of the Pertemps Hurdle 12 months ago, and QEWY could give punters some fun at bigger prices.
The former drops back in trip after racing too keenly on his Musslburgh comeback (3m) and should strip fitter, while Qewy is another that has had a chasing campaign aborted this term.
He was only 18l behind Douvan in last season’s Superme Novices’ Hurdle and will appreciate the drier ground and strong pace on his return to the smaller obstacles.
A slight negative could be the presence of last year’s third, Special Tiara, who is a confirmed front runner and seems likely to press the hot favourite for the lead.
The prospect of a strong gallop could help set the race up for FELIX YONGER who is a multiple Grade 1 winner and has the ability and quality to reach the frame at a tidy price.
He should be on the scene again. The admirable Balthazar King is returning from a long-term injury but has won three times around these fences and is impossible to write off even granted the absence.