While he has never raced on the flat, those of his rivals which have done so do not set the highest of standards. Winner of the Triumph Hurdle in 2014, his sole success since came back at Cheltenham in October of that year.
His form took a nosedive thereafter but a case can be made to suggest the form isn’t as bad as the finishing positions suggest. He hasn’t run for almost a year but won’t have to be at his peak to make a winning all-weather debut here.
Given he has more than two stone in hand of Roconga on their hurdling form, it will be disappointing if he doesn’t finish in front of that rival, despite the long absence. Nevertheless, the last-named rates the danger. Plenty about his form suggests he can improve over hurdles as the summer season progresses, and should go well on his first run for almost six months.
Tonkinese can take the median auction race for Michael Halford. A smart juvenile on the turf, he made his all-weather debut here in October and ran well for a long way before fading to finish fifth of six behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It A Bomb.
There was plenty of depth in that race and if this son of War Front is ready for his seasonal debut, he should prove too smart for A Shin Impala. The latter was runner-up on his two starts to date, stays well over a mile and has a good attitude. In a race with little depth, he should go very close. Ger Lyons’ newcomer, Rum Shack, is the only other runner of interest.
Carried can earn a long-overdue return to winning ways in the third race. Prunella Dobbs’ horse last entered the winner’s enclosure in February of 2014, but has been very consistent recently, finishing in the first three on five of his last six outings.
Last time out, he looked to have an apprentice handicap at his mercy when travelling strongly on the front end. However, he was collared late and had to settle for second behind Poitin.
He wore a visor for the first time on that occasion, and dons the same eye-wear this time. If it has the same positive effect, he should get home in front in the hands of Pat Smullen.