As ever at this time of year, there are few yards in as good form as Venetia Williams’ stable, including last week’s easy winner FUNAMBULE SIVOLA , who bolted up by seven easy lengths on his debut over fences.
He took everything in his stride at Wetherby and made light work of his rivals off a mark of 112. Although he has a new official rating of 125, he runs off a mark of 119 in this race.
It is a big step up in class, but arguably the best of these over hurdles is Flinck for trainer Phillip Hobbs.
He was a big eye-catcher on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow in October before seemingly not staying 3m at Cheltenham on his most recent outing. If he takes to fences, he could be the horse to improve most.
Despite largely disappointing in two starts this season, ESPION has always promised to deliver and has a good opportunity to do so at a course where he stayed on to finish third last time.
He runs off the same mark and is running over a trip just shy of 3m for the second time in his career, but this lightly-raced six-year-old may well have more in hand than his mark of 128 would suggest.
Flemcara was pulled up in this race last year when going off a well-backed 8/1 shot, but the eight-year-old hasn’t shown anything in two starts since.
He’s now dropped to a mark of 130 – 3lb lower than his latest winning mark – so with conditions in his favour, a return to form wouldn’t be the biggest surprise.
On what is a very good card at Exeter, the marathon staying chase over 3m 6f is somewhat of a minefield with there being a handful of well-handicapped horses.
PETITE POWER ran very well at Cheltenham last time to finish a staying-on fourth and a reproduction of that run would see the topweight go close under Liam Harrison, who claims an additional 7lb off his back.
Other well-handicapped horses who will appreciate the conditions are Dawson City and the lightly-raced and unexposed Some Detail , both of whom could run huge races.
This is a wide-open Mares’ Handicap Hurdle and a case could be made for each of the nine declared runners.
Despite the yard yet to be firing on all cylinders, Warren Greatrex’s MISS HONEY RYDER has some very good bumper form in the bag and could be very competitive.
She was a good second at Wincanton last season before running out a good winner at Huntingdon in February.
She was pulled up on her only start this season, but if she can put that behind her and continue with her progression from last season, she could be overpriced.
Visit Betway’s horse racing betting page.