Kelso top racing tip: Cormier looking to repeat last year's victory

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Mctigue heads the market as a four-year-old making his handicap debut, and only time will tell whether he is ready to take on a big field of experienced handicappers.

No runner this young has won this event in the last decade and Mctigue's best win so far was on heavy ground in France. Meanwhile, fellow Irish raider Colonel Mustard, has 12 stone to carry, which would be an achievement as nothing carrying more than 11-8 has won in the last ten years. Last year's winner, Cormier, looks a good bet to retain the title, as he switches back to hurdles after a couple of forays over fences in January.

He unluckily unseated his rider at the last fence in a Grade Two novices' event at Doncaster when last seen at the end of January. He would have finished third at worst and it shows him to be in very good shape coming into this race, which he won last year off a mark of 134. He is only two pounds higher this time and Sean Quinlan, who rode him last year, is in the saddle again for the first time since finishing a very good seventh of 24 on Cormier in the County Handicap at last year's Cheltenham Festival . That Cheltenham run came just two weeks after Cormier had won this race and he ran off 139 at the Festival so he is three pounds lower than that today. He would have finished closer in the County Hurdle but for being hampered on the run to the last, so he was a progressive performer in this sphere at this time last year. His only completed start over hurdles so far this term saw him put in another solid run at Cheltenham, missing the places by less than two lengths in a handicap he has contested there for the last three seasons, with this being his best effort yet. That was a good start to the current season and his latest run over fences was also very promising, so he comes here looking at least as good as he was prior to winning the prize last year.

Next best bet: Nayati

Of the others, the McCain yard is in good shape with seven recent winners, including three from the last six runners, so Nayati can be expected to go well under conditions that should suit. Having won over three furlongs further than this, Nayati has more than enough stamina for a strongly-run handicap and although he is three pounds above his top winning mark, Peter Kavanagh takes off five pounds and there could be more to come yet from this nine-year-old.

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