As quite of few of these runners look to be having ‘sighters’ for the cross country chase at Cheltenham’s Open meeting next month, it may be best to concentrate on the natural hurdlers among the field, and in the shape of CALL VINNIE (best price 9-1), he has the capabilities of seizing this decent-looking opportunity. Just like he did four starts ago over today’s course, Robbie McNamara's charge fell when looking likely to take a hand in the finish at Cork last time out and given that he has some solid form next to his name at Ballybrit in the past (second to Princely Conn in a bumper the pick), he rates a tempting each-way proposition off his light weight.
BANISH (best price 8-1) and CHARLIES MATE (best price 18-1), first and third respectively in the strongest run qualifier for the final of this series on the clock back in September have to be worth playing against the field at their morning odds based on those findings. On the evidence of the form book, it’s pretty clear that the former is a miles better horse on the all-weather than on turf (flopped back on grass last time at Newmarket) and that victory here two starts ago took his figures on a Polytrack surface to 2211. Staying strongly from the back of the field that day, Hugo Palmer’s charge mowed down his field in pretty ready fashion in the home straight and even though there has to be an element of doubt whether he can replicate that performance (raced in first-time blinkers that night), his price more than compensates the risk. The latter, although beaten fair and square on the night, once again ran right up to his best form over his favourite track and that placed effort took his C&D stats to 324323. Although he may lack the natural brilliance of some of his rivals, his honestly and reliability suggest he will always be capable of punching above his weight in races of this nature and he most certainly has a better chance of being competitive than his morning price indicates.