Sedgefield Preview: Nautical Twilight can sail to success
The Malcolm Jefferson trained filly has finished in the frame in four of her eight starts over the obstacles and has been unlucky to bump into well-treated rivals when runner-up in her last two starts.
This four-year-old looked all over the winner in the last of those over course and distance when in a clear lead two from home, only to get worn down in the dying strides and beaten a head by Golden Jubilee.
The pair pulled eight lengths clear of the field, and the fifth home Claude Carter has come out and won since to give the form a solid look in the context of this contest.
Although Nautical Twilight has been put up 6lb for that effort to 104, the daughter of Proclamation has been rated as high as 109 and finished an excellent neck second at Newcastle 12 months ago off 1lb higher.
That suggests that Nautical Twilight remains fairly treated, and another plus is that her handler boasts a healthy 25 per cent strike-rate with his runners at this track in the past 12 months.
Nautical Twilight also remains open to further improvement after just eight starts over hurdles and, with Brian Hughes in the saddle, looks the one they have to beat.
In the 2m 4f novices’ hurdle that opens proceedings (12.30), Always Tipsy looks value to turn over the favourite Master Dee.
The Nick Alexander trained gelding hinted at ability in four bumper runs and has shaped with plenty of promise in two runs over hurdles this season.
In the first of those over 2m 1f at Kelso, the five-year-old was held-up well off the pace before making headway three from home and staying on to finish a not knocked about 10 1/2 lengths third of 10 to Spiculas.
The winner has gone on to score again since, and Always Tipsy backed that up with an improved effort to finish runner-up to It’s High Time over 2m 1f last time out in a 14-runner contest at Hexham.
The son of Dushyantor was again held-up off the pace and given plenty to do, before staying on well at the business end of affairs to be beaten nine lengths without being given an unduly hard time.
Judged on those efforts, Always Tipsy will relish the step up in trip to 2m 4f, and he can make the most of the 7lb he receives from Master Dee, who represents the out-of-form yard of Donald McCain, to land the spoils.
12.30: Always Tipsy (NB)
1.00: Mount Haven
1.30: Prince Blackthorn
2.00: Nautical Twilight (NAP)
2.30: Apache Pilot
3.00: Baltic Pathfinder
3.30: Cloudy Dream