2.05 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 40yds
Abacadabras: Last year’s winner and came right back to his best in the spring when landing the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles. Lacks the advantage of a recent run but should still be capable of a strong showing and will surely be involved at the finish once more.
Darasso: Looked a very smart sort on testing ground a couple of seasons ago and has come right back to his best on a much better surface in recent months. He followed a second to Saldier in a Grade 3 at Tipperary with a victory in the two-and-a-half-mile Lismullen Hurdle last week. This demands more and he is dropping in trip but he has fitness to rely on.
Sharjah: High-class four-time Grade 1 winner who landed this race in 2018. Looked as good as ever last season when his form included runner-up efforts behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and a Grade 1 at this track the following month. Won at the top level on his first appearance last winter so a 198-day absence shouldn’t deter his supporters.
Zanahiyr: Looked the best juvenile around for much of last season but didn’t quite appear to fire at either Cheltenham or Punchestown. He returned with a commanding display at Down Royal last month and while this is vastly tougher he looks a four-year-old with Grade 1-winning potential and a bold effort is required even though he may ultimately come into his own over further.
Echoes In Rain: Huge improver last season when she won four of her five starts and trounced some decent rivals in a couple of Grade 2 events before then securing a top-level success at this track in April. Official ratings leave her with work to do but she possibly mightn’t have as much to find as those figures would suggest and her rate of progress last term suggested that she could well emerge as a major force in this division.
A typically small field but an absolutely fascinating contest is in prospect as a couple of established stars in this division take up some up and coming sorts. Zanahiyr may want further in time but he has fitness on his side and he was impressive at Down Royal a few weeks ago. This is his biggest test to date but he looks good enough to win at this level and he can make the advantage of a recent run count over Echoes In Rain who progressed so well last season. Sharjah and Abacadabras are more than a match for their younger rivals if running to their peak and both warrant the utmost consideration.