15:25 Aintree, Thursday
Live on ITV
1. Abacadabras (Denise Foster/ Jack Kennedy)
Very smart hurdler who won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November and bounced back from a below-par effort in between with a career best to finish 10 lengths second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February. Didn’t get the opportunity to show what he can do when falling at the third in the Champion Hurdle won by Honeysuckle at Cheltenham last time. Looks a leading contender on form, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll be equally effective over this trip (strong-travelling sort who has raced only at 2m).
2. Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies/ Sam Twiston-Davies)
Smart hurdler who returned this season with two good efforts in handicaps, filling the runner-up spot under big weights in both the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las in October and Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. Below that level in three subsequent starts, however, and even his best form leaves him with a bit to find to make an impact in Grade 1 company
3. Brewin’Upastorm (Olly Murphy/Aidan Coleman)
Very smart hurdler who has resumed his progress back over hurdles after a couple of underwhelming efforts over fences earlier this season. Easily defied top weight in a handicap at Taunton in January and then took the step up in grade in his stride when following up in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell (by five and a half lengths from McFabulous) last time, always in control after quickening to lead two out. Clearly thriving at present and must enter calculations with further improvement not out of the question.
4. Buveur d’Air (Nicky Henderson/ Nico de Boinville)
Top-class hurdler in his prime, notably winning the Champion Hurdle in 2017 and 2018. Missed most of last season due to injury and shaped as if needing the run after 14 months off when beaten four and a quarter lengths into second behind Navajo Pass in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last time, travelling best before tiring on the run-in. Entitled to strip fitter here but still has plenty to prove as he attempts to repeat his 2017 victory in this race.
5. Buzz (Nicky Henderson/ James Bowen)
Smart hurdler who has improved with every start in handicaps this season, shaping well under top weight on both outings since winning at Ascot in November. Proved better than ever when beaten five and three quarter lengths into fifth behind Soaring Glory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time, doing well to finish as close as he did after a mistake four out which left him with plenty of ground to make up. Remains with potential but looks up against it on his first try in Grade 1 company. Raced only at around 2m over hurdles.
6. Jason The Miltant (Henry de Bromhead/ Rachael Blackmore)
Very smart hurdler who showed improved form on his first two starts this season, finishing third in both the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal in October and Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown (beaten a neck into third behind Abacadabras) in November. Progressed further after three months off when resuming winning ways in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Fairyhouse last time, making all to give weight and a seven-and-a-half-length beating to Petit Mouchoir. Raced only at 2m over hurdles but shapes as if he’ll stay. Shouldn’t be underestimated for his top yard
7. McFabulous (Paul Nicholls/ Harry Cobden)
Very smart hurdler who won two of his first three starts this season, namely the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow in October and Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton in January. Produced a lacklustre effort when beaten five and a half lengths into second behind Brewin’Upastorm in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last time, looking one-paced in the straight after making some mistakes. Appeals as the type to bounce back quickly and meets Brewin’Upastorm on 6 lb better terms here.
8. Millers Bank (Alex Hales/ Kielan Woods)
Smart hurdler who has won four of his seven starts over obstacles, producing his best effort when storming clear to easily defy a BHA mark of 137 in a handicap at Newbury (by 10 lengths) last time. Possesses an excellent attitude which should continue to stand him in good stead, but this represents by far the toughest test of his career so far.
9. Not So Sleepy (Hughie Morrison/ Jonathan Burke)
Smart hurdler who defied a 15 lb higher mark than in 2019 to record his second successive win in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December, making all to beat Buzz by a length and three quarters. Ran about as well as could have been expected when beaten 13 lengths into fifth behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last time. Likely to prove vulnerable for win purposes again here.
10. Silver Streak (Evan Williams/ Tom O’Brien)
Smart hurdler who has been running consistently this season, proving well suited by a change of tactics when making all to gain a deserved win at Grade 1 level in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton (by six and a half lengths from Epatante) in December. Possibly made his effort earlier than ideal when beaten over 14 lengths into sixth behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last time, weakening before the last. Should bounce back quickly but others make more appeal.
11. Song For Someone (Tom Symonds/ David Bass)
Very smart hurdler who won his first two starts this season in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November and International Hurdle at Cheltenham (by a nose from Silver Streak) in December. Produced a rare below-par effort after 10 weeks off when beaten 22 lengths into second behind Goshen in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last time, never travelling well and failing to make any impression on the winner. That doesn’t undo the good work he had done previously, though, and he’ll be suited by the greater emphasis on stamina here.