Paul Townend is back on board for the first time since 2021
Loves deep ground
Has the quality to sweep rivals aside
Monkfish - 11/43.75 on the Betfair Sportsbook - makes plenty of appeal with Paul Townend back in the saddle, and he is fancied to return to winning ways on this reappearance and claim the scalp of some solid Grade 2 hurdlers.
The ten-year-old made a pleasing return to action in April 2023 when running Asterion Forlonge close at Fairyhouse on the back of a 713-day layoff over a trip too short and then perhaps bounced being turned out just 17 days later at Punchestown over three miles in the Grade 1 Stayers contest.
Those runs aside, the former Albert Bartlett and RSA winner is a league above these rivals today, and the presence of Paul Townened - the stable number one jockey - back on board for the first time since April 2021 is a hint in itself. Regardless of Paul Townend's confidence, he boasts easily the strongest form in the race, and he has a good record fresh with form figures reading 2122.
Today's heavy ground will suit with a record on soft or worse reading 211112, and he is the only horse in this field who has been capable of running to 170 in his short career. Plagued with problems, yes, but running to a rating in the mid-150s will see you go close here, and favourite Thedevilscoachman has newly fitted cheek-pieces which could go either way. At the same time, Thedevilscoachman's best hurdle performance came when defeating Ashdale Bob on the line at Navan in the Boyne Hurdle by a nose when the latter flagged at the finish.
At the same time, Farouk D'alene has just qualified for the Pertemps and gets first-time headgear, having been all out in that handicap.
Monkfish should be a clear favourite for this and is overpriced on the body of work he has achieved while moving back to 3m for the first time on soft ground over hurdles since his Albert Bartlett win means he must be a bet at 7/42.75 or bigger.