The selection was a faller on his first start over fences, but had jumped quite well until making that mistake at the seventh fence.
Prominent and still going well until coming to grief, it was most encouraging that the Arthur Moore-trained runner had been very strong in the betting for that race, as he had lost his way over hurdles, and market confidence suggested he was back in top form.
He won a maiden hurdle early last year, beating the very promising Le Vent D’Antan, but things haven’t gone his way since. However, he’s still only five, has always been thought of as a promising sort, and further support for him today would be clear indication he’s ready to begin fulfilling that promise.
This isn’t the most demanding of beginners’ chases and if none the worse for his fall at Listowel, he should be able to prevail. He Is Top Class, who finished runner-up in the race in which the selection fell, has been a consistent sort all season, and should go well again.
The finale is just a four-horse race, but it’s competitive and Shantou Flyer can make further progress over fences by accounting for his rivals. Colin Bowe’s horse took a big step forward in his chasing career when winning a beginners’ chase at the Galway Festival, and was far from disgraced in much better company next time.
A five-year-old, he has plenty of scope for improvement, and may be able to dominate this small field from the outset. Un Beau Roman could prove a thorn in his side in many ways, as he has the ability to succeed, and also likes to be on the pace from the off. However, he’s more exposed than the selection, and may have to settle for second place.
Adrian Maguire and Ruby Walsh can combine to take the fourth race with Davinia’s Tip. Walsh is one win from three rides for this stable over the past few years, and that success came aboard this mare back in March.
That win came on testing ground, which she will also face here, and if the lightly raced seven-year-old is ready for her return, she could prove too sprightly for his opponents.
Hash Brown would become extremely interesting if the market spoke in his favour. He has been a shade disappointing in his chase career to date, but looks the type that could develop into a smart performer over the coming years. With that in mind, he looks dangerously well handicapped.