In what looks a cracking novices handicap sure to be run at a fast pace (Sirabad likely to go off as if his tail is on fire), KNOCKGRAFFON (best price 8-1) is taken to build on his promising chase debut at Carlisle. Strongly fancied in the market at the Cumbrian venue, Dan Skelton’s charge may have disappointed a few given his position in the betting, but on reflection, he didn’t shape that badly once analysing the nuts and bolts of the race. Not only did the winner, Gurkha Brave, run a very fast overall time and final circuit sectional, but the first four home would have beaten Seeyouatmidnight and Bristol De Mai comparing like-for-like figures over the same trip, so that puts some kind of perspective on the level of performance he achieved that day. Likely to be a good deal more fitter this time around, the son of Flemensfirth looks just the type to benefit from a soundly run 2m over fences and he rates a decent each-way bet at this top morning quotes.£10 Free Credit and a £500 Deposit Bonus
THE STATESMAN (best price 7-2), a recent purchase by new connections out of the Aidan O’Brien stable (90k at the Tattersalls Horses In Training Sale), makes his eagerly-awaited UK debut for Jamie Osbourne and he should prove difficult to beat if he can translate his turf form on to the Tapeta surface at the first time out asking. A promising third on his debut at Limerick, the Zoffany colt filled out the same position at Cork on his latest outing and it’s that performance which really does stand out in the context of this race. Not only did the winner that day, Spanish Tenor, go on to run a blinder in a Group 3 at Leopardstown next time out, the fifth home, Cliffs Of Moher, bolted up in a maiden at the same track subsequently (very fast time for 2yo). Although he handled soft ground well enough on both starts, he has the action to suggest a better surface will suit, and unless there’s a world-beater amongst the un-raced brigade, this looks an ideal opportunity for him to get off the mark.
In a race full of intrigue, SNOW FALCON (NAP) (best price 6-1) represents a sound investment given the slight question marks over many of his rivals. Arriving here bang on top of his game, Noel Meade’s charge completed a hat trick over hurdles when outstaying the race-fit and well ridden De Plotting Shed at Navan on his latest outing and with the likes of the top-class pair, Shaneshill and Dedigout in behind, the form has to be taken very seriously. Having proven that he stays 3m really well and he handles testing ground in the past, the son of Presenting looks sure to go well given so many factors in his favour and providing all nine runners stand their ground, he rates a cracking each-way bet at his morning odds.
MAGNIFICATION (best price 7-1) hasn’t looked the most straightforward of rides on several occasions, but he did show last time out that he’s capable of winning a race if he puts his mind to the job and on the evidence of his latest effort over this course, tonight could well be the night he finally steps up to the plate. The way he raced awkwardly under pressure three starts ago indicated he resented the visor and the aid of a tongue-tie fared no better for Ken Condon’s charge two starts back at Leopardstown. However, on his most recent outing 14 days ago, he looked a totally different proposition without any aids and with any kind of a run in the latter stages when he appeared to be running all over his opposition with a furlong to race, he surely would have prevailed. Back to the scene of that extremely unlucky episode, the son of Equiano is back over a trip which saw him finish third behind Catch A Wave back in August and from his favourable inside draw, he should comfortably outrun his morning odds.
SUNGLIDER (best price 8-1) got involved in an unnecessary joust for early supremacy at Newcastle last time out and although he ended up winning that particular battle, as a result, he eventually lost the war. That said, David O’Meara’s inmate still came out of the race with great credit given how much early petrol he soaked up and if ridden a little more conservatively this time around, he has a decent chance of finally getting off the mark.
Quite a bit of deadwood here, so a chance is taken that FULL SHILLING (best price 9-1) can translate some of her useful recent turf form on her return to the all-weather scene. A dual winner this season since switching from Garvin Donnelly to Pat Mooney, the daughter of Intikhab ran a blinder when undone by the draw at the Curragh on her latest start (won her side) and although she’d previously been a bit disappointing on several visits to tonight’s track, that was during the period when she was totally off the boil for her old connections.