Charli Parcs had promised much, yet failed to deliver last season but took a step back in the right direction when second to High Bridge at Newbury in the Gerry Feilden, a good trial for this race. He should build on that display, improve and is a definite contender @ 4/1 with only the lack of experience of a grade one, right handed testing track, a`la Ascot, Sandown or Fairyhouse, a possible negative. Fellow four year olds Silver Streak, Divin Bere and Nietzsche are all interesting runners though both Silver Streak’s and Divin Bere’s lack of handicap form against older horses is a worry while Brian Ellison’s Nietzsche can go well @ 20/1 after finishing sixth in the Greatwood at Cheltenham. Lost In Translation, well regarded by the Tizzard team, is another capable of improvement but winning a maiden hurdle at Newbury is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of big handicap at Ascot and the 6/1 looks short for this talented five year old. Another talented five year old is Magic Dancer @ 14/1, who looks well treated on the figures but again lacks experience of these tough handicaps.
The market, with Charli Parcs @ 4/1 and Lost In Translation @ 6/1, favours potential and has ignored the steadily progressive Elgin, a course and distance winner and already victorious in two competitive handicaps so far this season, including the Greatwood. The 8/1 looks too big a price even though he has the task of shouldering top weight and Alan King’s five year old will surely be in the frame. Nicky Henderson is double handed at the five day stage and with all eyes on Charli Parcs, improving mare Verdana Blue is just sneaking under the radar. She has ran well on both starts at Ascot, on seasonal debut when fifth behind next time out winners Elgin, Limited Reserve and High Bridge and when comfortably taking a class two handicap from Speredek. With more improvement likely she has to be, along with Elgin, value @ 8/1.
The Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts Handicap Hurdle at Sandown, a race won by Brain Power last year en route to success in this race, again looks good, solid handicap form and Caid du lin, who just lost out to A Hare Breath can build on that effort two weeks ago and go close again @ 20/1. Air Horse One is consistent and should be involved at the business end @ 12/1 but is just starting to look a little exposed, Fergall, third in this race twelve months ago can place one more while Chesterfield, Poppy Kay and Veinard can all go well at big prices but may not quite have the class to win this.
Main Contenders: Charli Parcs @ 4/1, Elgin @ 8/1, Verdana Blue @ 8/1
Long Shot: Caid du Lin @ 20/1