Last two winners up against it in Exeter's Haldon Gold Cup
The last two winners of the Haldon Gold Cup, Sir Valentino and Vibrato Valtat, return for another try, but they may have to settle for minor honours behind FOREST BIHAN (2.00).
He produced some smart efforts in novice chases last season and took his form to a new level when reappearing at Kelso last month, defying top-weight in a decent handicap with a bit in hand. His fitness could give him the edge with five of his rivals returning from holidays.
It’s hard to make a case for plenty of the 19 runners in the finale, but NORSE LIGHT (4.10) has a solid chance.
The David Dennis-trained six-year-old has built up a lengthy losing streak, but he looked primed to strike here last time out when he stayed on for second but couldn’t match the clear winner Cave Top. That was over 2m1f and this slightly longer trip can help him eke out the necessary improvement.
JUST A STING (1.00) won both of his bumpers last season and can make a successful start to his hurdles career in the opener.
He showed a good attitude to complete a double here in March, getting the better of subsequent winner Canford Chimes with a big gap back to the rest.
The veteran SILVERY MOON (1.50) rolled back the years to win at Pontefract last time out and can add another success in the 1m2f handicap.
Tim Easterby’s ten-year-old found the going a bit too quick at Redcar and York previously, but he enjoyed soft ground last time out and pulled a length and a quarter clear on the run-in.
A 3lb higher mark won’t stop him if he can reproduce that display in similar conditions.
The Antony Brittain-trained GREY DESTINY (2.10) regularly misses the break, but that hasn’t stopped him going close in two of his last three starts.
Most recently, he powered home over this course and distance two weeks ago
but couldn’t quite match the in-form favourite Sentinel.
There is nothing with that rival’s potential in opposition here and a repeat performance should be good enough to see him come home on top.
THANKYOU VERY MUCH (7.45) has spent the last 18 months jumping, but she showed that she was still capable of getting involved on the Flat at Newcastle last month.
Stepping up to 2m for the first time in this sphere, James Bethell’s mare fought valiantly but couldn’t quite match the in-form Navajo Star.
That second-place finish arguably sets the standard here, with most of these struggling for form recently.
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