This is always a keenly-contested 2m 4f handicap chase and Paul Nicholls sent Secret Investor to Ireland for his initial outing of the season when finishing a well-held second to classy Real Steel in a Grade 2 event. He scored twice last March/April, at Ayr and Wincanton, and looks ready to step up to the plate in one of these typically competitive Saturday handicaps.
Cepage sets the standard on his second to Riders Onthe Storm at Aintree but the assessor has lumped 8lb on his rating for that fine effort. Brelan D’as ran Happy Diva to a neck in the BetVictor Gold Cup and a 5lb rise seems a bit fairer. At the bottom of the weights, Dan Skelton’s Not That Fuisse, runner-up to talented Al Dancer in October, should be prominent.
With eight runners declared for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle there is scope for an each-way punt in an open contest.
CALL ME LORD (3.05) was an expensive runner-up at Ascot last month but is fancied to go one better in the Unibet International Hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s gelding travelled strongly but was ultimately just outrun by If The Cap Fits. Call Me Lord won’t mind any rain and wins the vote over stable companion Pentland Hills and consistent Ch’tibello.
Pentland Hills ended the season on a high, travelling strongly throughout before landing the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and later edging out Fakir D’oudairies at Aintree. Ch’tibello scooped the competitive County Hurdle here in March and probably improved again at Aintree the following month when a close third to Supasundae and Buveur D’Air. Front-running Elixir De Nutz doesn’t have much to find to take a hand on the evidence of his victory over Grand Sancy in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
DAME DE COMPAGNIE (3.40) is a worthy market leader in the 2m 4f Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. Her fifth to Harambe in the Greatwood Hurdle here last month came in stronger company and she previously scored over course and distance in April. Running in the ubiquitous JP McManus colours, she is preferred to Dan Skelton’s filly Vision Du Pays, third to Lady Buttons at Wetherby. Lust For Glory failed by two lengths to hunt down enterprisingly-ridden Not So Sleepy at Ascot and may improve for this step up in trip.