12.10 - Betfair Weighed In Podcast Newton Novices' Hurdle (Listed, 2m)
A decent Listed contest to get things underway and one in which the Paul Nicholls-trained Flic Ou Voyou will bid to complete a four-timer over timber. He's looked a much-improved performer this autumn during a rich spell for his trainer and should be in the firing line again, albeit this is his toughest challenge to date with Severance and DO YOUR JOB looking worthy adversaries.
Ben Pauling's Carlisle winner Severance looked a natural over flights with that ready success 12 days ago on jumping bow and is due major respect quickly upped in class, but this may go to Michael Scudamore's impressive six-year-old Do Your Job.
The son of Fame And Glory won nicely on return at Ffos Las (2m, heavy) in October and then had no trouble conceding a penalty in his follow-up at Ayr (2m, soft, heavy in places) a few weeks later. He jumped well in front there and it will be very interesting to see if he can make all again, with Flic Ou Voyou also tending to lead in his races this term.
Ayr runner-up Cadzand was a very easy winner at Warwick on Wednesday for the Skelton team, adding substance to the win of Do Your Job last time, and he can snare this Listed contest.
12.40 - Betfair Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase (3m1½f)
DEISE ABA made a solid enough impact after going chasing last season, winning at Catterick and Sandown early in the New Year, before running a solid enough fifth in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 142.
He appeals as being one of the more reliable types in this field and should be up to defying his current mark before long, based on February's Sandown win. He has also won after a layoff before and should go well here with former champion jockey Richard Johnson back in the saddle.
Secret Reprieve showed he has the attributes for chasing last season despite failing to win in three starts. Evan Williams' charge should be well suited now finding a decent-sized field in which to make his challenge.
Bob Mahler was pulled up at Cheltenham on his seasonal bow but often tends to come forward for a run and may get competitive here, having undergone a wind operation since. He joins Sam's Adventure in that regard, while Pop Rockstar - not the most consistent - must replicate his recent second at Carlisle on seasonal bow for Jonjo O'Neill and will be in the mix if so.
1.15 - Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase (2m5½f)
Master Tommytucker is the conundrum for punters here. The Paul Nicholls inmate has looked smart on occasions over fences with two wins from six attempts (including a recent match at Huntingdon) but his career has been beset with absences and he's clearly not the easiest to train. He's also got more falls (three) than wins over fences and is opposed here.
Dashel Drasher also had smart form in three chase starts last season, despite an unseat in the middle of those runs, and should make further progress having undergone a wind operation during the summer. His lack of a run since December is a mark against him.
Preference therefore is for GOOD BOY BOBBY, representing a Nigel Twiston-Davies yard that tends to do well at this meeting. He had some excellent efforts in defeat last season alongside winning at Wetherby in November.
He came up shy in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown (2m4f, soft) in February but returned to action with an assured round of jumping at Bangor (2m1f, soft) last month and should be sharper for that win, while this return to a longer trip also promises to suit. His ability at the obstacles could be a major asset and he's fancied to land this under Daryl Jacob.
13.50 - Betfair Racing Only Bettor Handicap Hurdle (2m3f)
The first of two extremely tough handicap hurdles and a field of 17 runners will make this a real puzzle. There likely won't be any standing on ceremony with Kid Commando in the field, Anthony Honeyball's charge sure to get on with things. He should handle this longer trip but he may be vulnerable late on nonetheless.
Nicky Henderson's Fix Sun can build on his comeback at Cheltenham and is considered alongside On The Wild Side, War Lord and Our Power as contenders.
Handicap debutant Shakem Up'arry clashed with some of the best novices' around last season and arrives here having scored easily from the front on return at Ffos Las thus month. An opening mark of 130 certainly isn't beyond him and Ben Pauling will perhaps be hoping he can settle behind Kid Commando in this competitive contest.
David Pipe's string are in good form and they might strike here with UMBRIGADO. He went well on this card a year ago over three-miles on his seasonal bow and, while he didn't strictly build on that afterwards, he contested a pair of red-hot races at Ascot and Cheltenham and certainly wasn't disgraced.
He seems versatile in regards to trip (2019 Exeter winner at this distance) and still has the look of an unexposed contender in this field. With the yard in form and Fergus Gillard claiming a valuable 7lb from his back, he makes solid each-way appeal.
14.25 - Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 3m)
Fergal O'Brien and Paddy Brennan have enjoyed a fine start to the season and they've got market leader Imperial Alcazar to fire at this prize. Winner on three of his four starts over hurdles last season from 2m4f-2m6f, including a Ballymore Trial at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, he's at home on soft/heavy ground and looks sure to get this new trip. He won first time out last season and there is almost certainly further progress to come from this mark of 140.
Irish raider The Jam Man routed the field in a competitive handicap chase recently at Navan but has a career-high mark back over timber now.
David Pipe landed this contest in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and must stand a good chance with Main Fact here. He's won all eight starts in 2020, with five wins over hurdles from January to March before a hat-trick on the Flat over the last month on testing ground. He's 15lb higher than when he last won over timber at Uttoxeter (2m4f, heavy) but remains unexposed tackling this distance.
2018 Champion Bumper heroine Relegate and West To The Bridge are others of note but WHO DARES WINS shades the vote. The eight-year-old won a Grade 2 novice over fences at Kempton in February before struggling in the Ultima at Cheltenham. He was a Royal Ascot winner (2m5f) in June and has since contested the Goodwood and Lonsdale Cups on the Flat.
Off a mark of 147 and with fitness on his side, he could go well back over hurdles for the first time since 2018 and three-miles around here should be within his compass.
3.00 - Betfair Chase (Grade 1, 3m1½f)
There are five runners for the big Grade 1, continuing the trend of low numbers in recent years, and in truth this looks a three-horse race.
Bristol De Mai has twice won this before and will look to emulate Kauto Star, Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card in regaining the mantle here having won it, then lost it previously.
The grey may find that his time has come and gone now, however. LOSTINTRANSLATION was value for more than the winning margin 12 months ago and, while he flopped in the King George won by Clan Des Obeaux next time, he bounced right back following a wind op when he was third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March - with both his main rivals here behind.
Colin Tizzard's team are finding their stride in recent weeks and this race will have been on their radar all along. This flat track is of no concern to a horse with winning form at 2m4f and the 3m1½f around here is perfect for Robbie Power's mount.
Clan Des Obeaux won't got down without a fight, this duo expected to serve it up to likely frontrunner Bristol De Mai late on. Paul Nicholls has won this six times and is bullish on the chances of his runner, who wouldn't have been best served at Cheltenham in March as he just doesn't seem to come up the hill there.
Lostintranslation's Gold Cup third was essentially a career-best and this excellent jumper is fancied to retain his crown, at the primary expense of Clan Des Obeaux. Both Bellshill and Keeper Hill are surely reliant on accidents to get involved in the shake-up.
3.35 - My Odds Boost On Betfair Stayers' Handicap Chase (3m4½f)
Kings Monarch (winner) held off Financial Outcome last month at Ffos Las (3m, heavy) and both should have claims again. The former is 5lb higher in the ratings now, while Rebecca Curtis' runner is easily forgiven a poor run at Wetherby since as he almost unseated his rider with a bad mistake early doors. He should bounce right back over this stamina-sapping trip.
Midnight Tune returns for seasonal bow having undergone a wind operation since she was last sighted at Uttoxeter in March. She'll likely aim to serve it up from the front and, while she's got top-weight, isn't readily dismissed.
DON POLI shaped well for a long way in a Veterans' Handicap Chase at Aintree (3m1f, soft) last month on his first start for the Dan Skelton team. That fourth-place finish should have blown away some cobwebs and the handicapper has dropped him 2lb.
Placed in a Cheltenham Gold Cup at his peak, the 11-year-old has never been blessed with a great amount of pace. This sort of test might be just what he wants in the twilight of his career and, if he does come on for the Aintree run, Harry Skelton's mount could be the one in a tough finale.