Stratford Preview: Mystery Drama the class act in handicap hurdle

Mystery Drama has some solid form to her name and can defy top weight on handicap debut to land the 2m contest at Stratford today (3.30).

Trained by Alan King, the mare progressed well on the flat last year and carried on in the same vein in three runs over hurdles.

The four-year-old got off to a winning start over the obstacles when only having to be driven out to beat Poetic Verse by 3/4 of a length, and then ran a cracker to finish runner-up to Gitane Du Berlais in a Listed juvenile hurdle at Aintree.

Although no match for the eight-length winner, Mystery Drama stuck to the task well and Gitane Du Berlais went on to land a Grade 3 contest at Fairyhouse and finish a fine third in a valuable contest in Auteuil to obtain an official rating of 135.

That is very strong form in the context of this Class 4 mares’ handicap hurdle, and makes Mystery Drama’s opening mark of 120 look exploitable.

The daughter of Hernando also has the services of Thomas Bellamy in the saddle, whose claim takes off another 5lb, and comes into the contest race fit having posted three solid efforts on the level in recent months.

In the 2m 7f handicap chase (3.00), Prince des Marais can take advantage of a drop in the weights to land an overdue success.

Trained by Caroline Bailey. the gelding was last scored back in 2011 when staying on strongly to land a class 3 handicap chase at Fakenham by 16 lengths off a mark of 118.

The 11-year-old went on to be placed several times in 2012, but then suffered an injury and spent 648 days on the sidelines.

However, Prince Du Marais has shown enough in his last two starts to suggest that he retains enough ability to win a race of this nature, and is now 13lb lower than when last successful in what is a weak Class 4 affair.

Speed Check is in fine form at present and looks to have been found a nice opening to bag another success in the 2m 6f handicap hurdle (4.00).

The seven-year-old has won three of his last five starts, including one over course and distance, and comes into the race unpenalised following a comfortable 4 1/2 length victiory at Sedgefield six days ago.

Trained by Don Cantillon, the son of Kris Kin is ahead of the handicapper, and in a race lacking any real strength in depth is going to be very hard to beat.

2.00: Honey Pound
2.30: Go Odee Go
3.00: Prince des Marais (NB)
3.30: Mystery Drama (NAP)
4.00: Speed Check
4.30: Vinnieslittle Lamb
5.00: Knight’s Reward