HARRY FLASHMAN gets the vote over the consistent Panama At Once and Tot Of The Knar. Our pick has won twice in four starts here but it's his course and distance third in April that helps to make our case. That day he was beaten just two lengths in a much better race than this one and now races from a 3lb lower mark, so we're prepared to overlook his subsequent well-beaten fifth and bank on him relishing this return to Hexham, with ground conditions ideal. Panama At Once is sure to attract plenty of support for this, arriving as he does in such good form. Joss Saville's gelding is a dual course and distance winner who, despite being almost a stone higher in the ratings than for his latest victory, remains well treated on last year's form. He's won on all types of ground and is four from 12 for Tom Messenger compared to nought from 16 for other jockeys, so the case is strong and he's only narrowly opposed. Tot Of The Knar once promised to be a good deal better than this mark but she's ultimately disappointed, a point reflected in the fact that she's yet to win a handicap. Peter Bowen's mare should be suited by this step back up in trip but, despite the fact she's rated 12lbs lower over fences compared to her hurdles mark, more is needed if she's to win. Western Gale looks a shade high in the weights on what he's achieved but his sole success since arriving from Ireland came over course and distance and he's had less racing than most, so he could go well and is preferred to Cash On Friday who looks in the grip of the assessor. Guerilla is 8lbs out of the weights and can also be taken on in a race taken to go to Harry Flashman.
Western Gale (IRE) 10-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, hit 9th, never dangerous, 4th of 12, 23l behind Victor Daly (10-7) at Aintree 3m 1f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in May.
Tot Of The Knar 7-1 (11-6) Held up in rear, not fluent 1st or 4th, bumped 7th, headway next, stayed on same pace from 2 out, 5th of 12, 8l behind Grand Slam Hero (11-10) at Bangor 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gd in May.
Harry Flashman 4-1 (10-8) Chased leaders, one pace from last, 5th of 10, 26l behind Top Dressing (11-1) at Kelso 3m 1f hcp chs 0-120 (3) gd in Apr.
Panama At Once 15-2 (10-0) Mid-division on outer, ridden approaching 17th, headway approaching 4 out, plugged on from 3 out, 3rd of 17, 19l behind Omix D'or (10-9) at Perth 3m 7f hcp chs 0-120 (3) sft in Apr.
Cash On Friday 16-1 (11-12) Mid-division, ridden after 3 out, plugged on approaching next, no impression, 6th of 14, 27l behind Lindseyfield Lodge (10-13) at Kelso 2m 6f sll hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in May.
Guerilla (AUS) 18-1 (10-10) Ridden 6th, always towards rear, 12th of 16, 44l behind Liz's Dream (10-9) at Perth 3m 4yo Am hcp 0-100 (4) gd in Apr.