Impressive on both starts to date, he will need to be from the top drawer to win what looks a very competitive renewal. The only thing not to like about him is his price — he is short enough in the betting — but could well take the opener.
Stable companion Bellshill is a Grade One winner over hurdles and another leading player. He wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone at Leopardstown and a much better effort can be expected.
Supasundae was an impressive winner last time out and, sixth in last year’s Champion Bumper, looks to have a good chance of making the frame. Tombstone was perhaps unlucky on a couple of occasions this season. Silver Concorde, a former Festival winner, is a maiden over hurdles but is an interesting runner.
Festival winner Douvan remains unbeaten over fences having annihilated the opposition on all three starts to date. He looks to be in a league of his own and must win, barring a mishap.
Sizing John is a talented horse but will likely have to settle for minor honours. The Game Changer is returning from a long break and appreciates good ground.
: Sizing John
The English have bossed the first handicap of the week for the last decade. Morning Assembly has a touch of class and looks our main hope. The former RSA third has the Aintree Grand National as his main target but could run well here.
Spring Heeled, victorious in the Kim Muir two years ago, looks the next best. Shanahan’s Turn took last summer’s Galway Plate but is off top weight.
: Morning Assembly
A race surely heading the way of the Irish. Annie Power, supplemented for the race, looks to have a great chance of making it third time lucky at the Cotswolds. Her mares’ allowance is a big bonus. Nichols Canyon, a horse with six top-level wins to his name, certainly holds claims, but will have to put a poor run at Leopardstown behind him.
Identity Thief has had a significant break since finishing runner-up to Nichols Canyon at Christmas. He will have to improve but looks the type that could do so. Sempre Medici could well outrun his odds.
: Annie Power
: Identity Thief
Willie Mullins holds the ace in the pack in the shape of the classy Vroum Vroum Mag, who is unbeaten since she joined the Closutton team. She should continue the champion trainer’s winning streak in this contest.
Gitane Du Berlais, from the same yard, has bundles of ability, and has place claims.
: Vroum Vroum Mag
: Gitane Du Berlais
A sounder surface should see course winner Shantou Flyer to better effect. Noble Endeavour has been running well, and a step up in trip could help.
Measureofmydreams was a fortunate winner the last day, but did have the aforementioned duo in behind. Pont Alexandre disappointed on his last Festival run, and his jumping is suspect.
: Shantou Flyer
McKinley is a top-level winner over hurdles and could go well. Domesday Book has his first start in handicap company after finishing a distant third in a Grade One behind Douvan, so is of interest. Bridgets Pet was a winner last time out but looks up against it.
: Domesday Book