A tricky opener in which SPACE TELESCOPE is given the chance to bounce back from being brought down last time ahead of newcomer Al Qeddaaf and the penalised Sergeant Pink. Jonjo O'Neill's gelding showed distinct promise on hurdling debut when taking third at Sandown, having also looked a horse of some potential during a brief flat career when trained by John Oxx. The horse was unluckily brought down early on when seeking to build on that initial promise but can be given a chance to atone here in what is probably a weaker race. Sergeant Pink is the only winner in the line-up having scored over course and distance back in November. That effort on ground similar to todays suggested the colt might be able to defy a penalty in similar company but the opposition here is slightly tougher and Steve Gollings' inmate may struggle to give weight away to all of his rivals. A bigger danger to the selection may emerge in the shape of Al Qeddaaf. The three-year-old showed smart enough form on the level when with Willy Haggas, most notably when scoring on soft ground at Yarmouth back in June. Rated 77 in that sphere and having joined a yard going well this gelding is worth monitoring for support making his debut over timber at the right level. Of the other two runners Rawaaj was only modest on the flat and looks the stable second-string and so Gwyre is of more interest having stayed on dourly to chase home a better fancied stablemate last time. That effort was a marked improvement on all previous form but it may just be the horse relished softening conditions and with similar likely today he could derive further improvement from that run and take a hand in the finish. Just five runners but not the easiest race to unravel and we'll side with Space Telescope.
Sergeant Pink (IRE) 14-1 (10-12) In touch, joined leader 5th, driven and close up 2nd when left clear 2 out, kept on easily, won at Market Rasen 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) sft in Nov beating King's Counsel (10-12) by 13l, 13 ran.
Al Qeddaaf (IRE) 2-1fav (9-0) Mid-division, came wide on home turn, headway over 1f out, stayed on into 3rd final 100 yards, 3rd of 14, 1 1/4l behind Poyle Meg (8-7) at Kempton 1m 2f hcp 0-80 (4) pol in Oct (flat).
Rawaaj 8-1 (8-9) Held up headway on wide outside in to mid-division halfway, ridden over 2f out, soon weakened and behind, 10th of 13, 23l behind Bow To No One (8-9) at Kempton 1m 4f 3yo hcp 0-75 (5) pol in Oct (flat).
Space Telescope (IRE) 11-4 (10-12) Held up in rear, brought down 4th, in a race won by Ultimate (10-9) at Huntingdon 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Nov, 11 ran.
Gwyre (IRE) 100-1 (10-5) Held up in rear, headway approaching 2 out, chased winner approaching last, stayed on flat, 2nd of 10, 2l behind Monsieur Jourdain (11-5) at Sedgefield 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) sft in Nov.