The form of those towards the top of the market in the National Hunt novices’ hurdle at Hexham (1.15pm) is not strong and it is worth taking a chance on Ashover Hills on his second start over timber this afternoon.

He showed a good bit of ability on debut in a bumper at Catterick last November, travelling well and hitting the front over a furlong out, before just tiring late on.  The form of that has worked out well for a bumper at that course, with the second, third and fourth all winning their maiden or novice hurdles subsequently.

He was disappointing on his second start, which came at this course in April, but the way in which he stopped quickly suggested something was amiss and a wind op eight days later offers a valid explanation.

He made his hurdling debut last month (during which the yard were 1-31) and just looked to find things happening a little too quickly, making a few novicey errors.  However, it was good to see him latch on to the leading pack turning for home and though he was ultimately well beaten, it was a much deeper race than this.  The winner went in again next time and is now rated 125, while the fourth finished a good second last week and has a mark of 118.

A scopey sort, he should come on both physically and mentally for that run and his yard are in better form, so the 40-1 on offer looks too big.

1.15 Hexham – 1pt win, 0.5pt place Ashover Hills @ 40-1 (Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Betfair, 33-1 elsewhere)