This Breac has been raised 5lb for winning over 2m at Leicester earlier in the month and is expected to give it his best shot up in distance, though preference is for BLUE MONDAY, who makes strong appeal on his 2m5f victory on heavy ground at Hereford in December. While he needs to step up on his last run at Fakenham, Fergal O'Brien's seven-year-old may benefit from being held onto for longer on this occasion. Bellamy's Grey drops back from 3m and merits a market check now sporting first-time blinkers.
Fidelio Vallis looked beaten when falling at the last at Chepstow and hasn't made the sort of impact that was hoped in two starts since arriving from France. It might be worth taking a chance on Gary Moore's RIGHT HAND OF GOD, a recent third after racing keenly at Fontwell, in the hope he can settle better in this larger field. Neil Mulholland's new recruit, Ragamuffin, boasts winning form between the flags and is another to monitor closely in the betting.
KAYF ADVENTURE is now rated 1lb lower than when winning over C&D in 2018 and may be able to build on his 2m5f Ascot third last month now fitted with first-time cheekpieces. The main danger may be the consistent Admiral's Secret, who is expected to remain competitive having been raised 5lb for scoring over this trip at Leicester and who chased home Molineaux over 2m here on his penultimate start.
ASK FOR GLORY ran with plenty of credit on his hurdling debut when fourth in a decent contest at Newbury in November. The step up in trip promises to unlock a decent chunk of improvement from Paul Nicholls' gelding based on what he has shown so far under Rules, and he can account for Minella Beat, who has undergone wind surgery since his second at Fontwell in October, and Special Buddy.
MINNIE ESCAPE appeared to be still well ahead of the handicapper when scoring at Taunton last month by nine and a half lengths and Victor Dartnall's mare is capable of making it three victories out of her last four starts. Molliana ended her spell over timber last season in good heart and is of interest having acquitted herself well recently on the Flat, while her stable companion, Princess T, and Broke Away are others to note.
MALACHYS GIRL shaped with plenty of promise when fifth in novice company at Taunton after almost a year off the track and is fully expected to do better with that outing under her belt. The switch to handicap company off a fair mark of 109 should suit, and the seven-year-old will also enjoy this extra test of stamina. Arctic Footprint bumped into a smart sort (since followed up) at Exeter last time when second and should be competitive, while Fenlons Court is also expected to be involved.
SWIFT CRUSADOR was travelling with intent before unseating his rider at Bangor-on-Dee earlier this month and it wouldn't be a surprise if Sam Drinkwater's charge made amends here. The nine-year-old won a Sandown handicap off 120 in December 2018, so certainly has the ability needed to win a race of this nature. David Maxwell has an excellent record in this sphere so Chef D'Equipe warrants obvious respect, while Art Mauresque is another name to note.
The lightly-raced BLUE MONDAY was possibly ridden too aggressively when third at Fakenham last month and can quickly resume winning ways. This Breac made all dropped back in trip at Leicester 2 weeks ago and rates the main threat if proving as effective at this distance.
FIDELIO VALLIS is still to match his French form but he was in the process of running a bit better than on his stable debut when falling at Chepstow last month and should be capable of winning an ordinary race like this. Right Hand of God showed some ability sent hurdling at Fontwell recently and is a likely improver, with Sadlermor and Ragamuffin expected to prove best of the rest.
Strong claims can be made for all 4 so tactics may prove decisive, with MOLINEAUX likely to get the run of things at a track where he goes well. Admiral's Secret can follow him home again.
Useful bumper performer ASK FOR GLORY produced a promising first effort over hurdles in a strong race at Newbury in November, so he's very much the one beat open to plenty of improvement now up in trip. Minella Beat is certainly no mug though, and will ensure Paul Nicholls' charge has something to think about.
MINNIE ESCAPE has been successful on her previous 2 tries in mares' handicaps and gets the vote to follow up from her career best effort at Taunton earlier this year. She's a mare on the up and a 10 lb rise may not be enough to prevent her winning again. Molliana is feared most following her productive summer in Jersey, while Malina Ocarina and Broke Away also merit considerable respect.
ARCTIC FOOTPRINT has improved steadily over hurdles and, having briefly laid down a challenge to Kilconny Bridge (won a handicap readily off 114 last week) at Exeter last time, she looks potentially well treated ahead of this handicap debut. He's narrowly preferred to Lily The Pink, who made a successful start to handicaps at the same course last time.
ART MAURESQUE has shown his well-being in points of late and should have a bit too much class for this opposition. He's a confident choice ahead of Chef d'Equipe, with Asockastar far from out of it if he's tuned up for his reappearance having rejoined his former stable.