With Paul Nicholls' string in much better form than the last we saw ROYAL COLLONGES in action, his French-bred gelding gets the nomination to land the opener; Abbevillian has plenty of ability and also has to merit respect, while Balnahinch and Truckers Hall are bubbling under on the shortlist. Truckers Hall won a couple of point-to-points and a Hunters Chase before switching to racing under rules in Ireland; so he is obviously capable of paying his way. The ground conditions ought to suit Tom George's new recruit and he is definitely one for the notebook. Balnahinch showed plenty of promise last season and, having also won an Irish point on heavy ground, the expected going description shouldn't be too much of an issue. Of more concern is the mixed form shown by Henrietta Knight's runners and he may be one to be wary on his seasonal debut. Babysitter is yet another former (Irish) pointer that has a respectable profile from his time between the flags. This is his first start for Nigel Twiston-Davies, though. And there is a lot of guesswork involved in stating a solid case for him at this stage. Abbevillian is bred to get a trip but makes plenty of appeal on the evidence of last season's form. He can find a race before too long and shouldn¿t be underestimated. However, Royal Collonges has the edge in terms of race fitness and this half-brother to Neptune Collonges is expected to be a lot sharper for his blow-out at Chepstow last month.
Abbevillian (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, not fluent 4 out, went 2nd 3 out, led and not fluent 2 out, soon headed, lost 2nd between last 2, weakened before last, 4th of 9, 7l behind Dave's Dream (11-5) at Newbury 2m hdl (2) gs in Dec.
Babysitter (IRE) 4-5 (12-0) won at Ashorne 3m ptp in May beating Mistress Kaytee (11-7) by well, 10 ran.
Balnahinch (IRE) 3-1 (11-2) Led 2nd, blundered and headed 2 out, soon held, 2nd of 11, 9l behind Santia (11-2) at Fontwell 2m 2f nov hdl (4) gd in Mar.
Brookfieldshector (IRE) 80-1 (10-7) Chased leaders until weakened approaching 7th, tailed off, 6th of 9, well behind The Jigsaw Man (11-5) at Hereford 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd.
Llama Farmer 10-1 (10-12) Mid-division, stumbled and clipped heels after 1f, ridden after 4f out, soon weakened, 7th of 13, 29l behind Benleigh (10-12) at Ludlow 2m NH flat (5) gd in Apr.
Royal Collonges (FR) 4-9fav (10-13) Held up in rear, steady headway approaching 4 out, chased leaders and disputing 2nd from next, ridden and no impression from 2 out, 3rd of 8, 22l behind Tell Massini (11-0) at Chepstow 3m mdn hdl (5) sft in Oct.
Truckers Hall (IRE) 16-1 (10-7) Mid-division, moderate 6th halfway, no impression 4 out, some headway to moderate 4th before straight, kept on one pace, 4th of 12, 20l behind Time Electric (11-1) at Listowel 2m 4f nh nov hdl in Sep.
Wayward Prince 25-1 (10-9) Tracked leaders, not clear run on inside over 2f out, switched left over 1f out, ran on to go 2nd towards finish, not trouble winner, 2nd of 13, 3 1/2l behind Megastar (11-0) at Sandown 2m NH flat (5) gd.
Passive Interest 50-1 (10-6) Chased leaders, weakened over 4f out, tailed off, 7th of 10, 45l behind Ghizao (11-0) at Newton Abbot 2m 1f NH flat (6) gf in Aug.
Secret Gift 250-1 (10-2) Mistake and reminders 4th, always rear division, tailed off, 10th of 16, well behind A French Horse (10-12) at Warwick 2m 5f nov hdl (4) gd.