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1.25 - Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle (3m)
Both Jersey Wonder and Giovanni Change arrive here bidding to complete quick hat-tricks. The pair may have further progress in them but the handicapper has had a say and there's no escaping that this is a tougher environment for them.
Proschema took the step up in trip to 2m4½f at Cheltenham last month in his stride. Dan Skelton's runner was once rated 105 on the Flat. He's gone up 11lb for his latest success and has to prove his stamina now tackling another new trip, though clearly he relished the increased distance last time.
Grand Morning won well at Ayr back over hurdles in March. Lucinda Russell's runner stays this far if backing that up from an 8lb higher mark.
COLONIAL DREAMS (second) and Canyon City (fourth) both ran well over C&D last month. Nicky Henderson's inmate was only collared on the line and maybe got to the front soon enough at the third last. He's been put up 3lb for that effort but still has a chance to go one better with Sean Bowen on board this afternoon.
2.00 - Pertemps Network Handicap (1m)
Royal Air Force was certainly not disgraced in the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on last month's return to action. A wide-margin winner on his only outing at two (beating only two rivals at Yarmouth over 7f), he has more to come in all probability. He is however starting into handicaps off a mark of 93 and giving 7lb to the promising ALEAS might be asking too much.
Ralph Beckett's Archipenko gelding was within a neck of winning all three starts at two - the form of his slender debut defeat has worked out well - and he has the look of one that will make plenty progress this season. He is fancied to make a winning return to action.
Darvel shaped well on handicap bow at Beverley (7½f, good to firm) when runner-up last month and should be competitive from 2lb higher while North Of Amazing steps into this sphere for the first time with scope to improve. Rafiki was a dual winner on the all-weather either side of his winter layoff but last month's turf/handicap bow at Newbury (in a higher grade) leaves him with plenty to work on.
2.35 - Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes (6f)
Just the four runners but this is quite trappy. Giving 7lb to his three rivals, it looks as though Exalted Angel is the least likely of the four to prevail. All three of his British wins have come on the all-weather - including a Listed success at Lingfield in February. He ran well back there last month on All-Weather Finals Day but was since well held in a Group 3 at Newmarket and it will be a shock should he manage to concede weight all round now.
Likeable veteran Brando will handle the ground and shaped quite promisingly on his comeback at Doncaster in March when third in a Listed event over 6f (good). Almost two years have gone by since he last earned a win, but he'll scarcely get a better chance on paper.
Still, preference is for KHAADEM as the Charlie Hills trained five-year-old has age on his side. He only ran twice last summer but he was fourth in Group 1s via the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup in those appearances. He flopped at Meydan in March on his 2021 bow, but it might just pay to overlook that, with his yard now in fine fettle (25 per-cent strike-rate lately).
Cape Byron would be capable of winning this at his best, though we've seen him just once on the track since 2019, when he was last of 16 in a Group 1 at Ascot on Champions Day back in October, failing to finish his race with any conviction. It's hard to know where he's at.
3.10 - Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 1m7½f)
Nicky Henderson won successive renewals of this race with Eradicate in 2010/2011 and the Seven Barrows handler has another prime contender now in the still-improving HOOPER. He has won all three starts in 2021, starting with a jumpers' bumper at Kempton in February and then scoring as he pleased in Hereford novice hurdle (2m3½f, soft) in March.
He made his handicap debut a winning one in a Conditionals event at Cheltenham (2m1f, good) last month and Ben Ffrench Davis keeps the ride here. They showed a fine attitude to best runner-up Nordic Combined by more than three-lengths that day, the pair having left the field some way behind.
David Pipe's runner is 2lb better off today, having shone a fine light on that Cheltenham form as he scored in decisive fashion himself at Hexham a week ago. While Hooper might ideally want further, he has shown plenty promise over this sort of trip (second all three over timber early in the season) and this should be run at a good clip, which may help bring his stamina to the fore late on.
There are, of course, a whole host of possible dangers. Rowland Ward gamely bested Camprond at Aintree last month, both look capable of having a say again from increased marks here. Copperless was travelling ominously well in that same race only to come down at the second last flight - he has to join that duo on any shortlist.
The talented Teqany made good progress in the autumn, twice winning over this sort of trip on good ground before coming up shy in Listed/Grade 2 races. He can give a solid account, but top-weight is a concern.
Handicap debutant Any News has seen his progress stalled by in graded company the last twice but could yet have more to offer. Defining Battle is closely matched with Camprond on their Taunton maiden form in March and Dan Skelton's charge has since run well on handicap bow at Ayr (2m, good; third), perhaps making his effort sooner than desired. He's only 2lb higher and remains unexposed.
3.45 - Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes (Listed, 7f)
Sixth in last month's Spring Cup at Newbury wasn't a bad effort from RAAEQ considering he was conceding weight to the field. The Kingman colt remains lightly-raced after only seven starts and he's well worth a crack in this company. The drop back to 7f should also be viewed as a positive for Brian Meehan's four-year-old.
Just six runners contest this Listed prize and it would be hard to rule any of them out with a degree of certainty.
Lord Of The Lodge has been in very impressive form on the all-weather this year and it's worth recalling he was a wide-margin winner as a novice here in 2019 over 6f. Ideally however he'd prefer a quicker surface.
Tomfre on the other hand ended last season with a hat-trick of wins on heavy/soft ground and is due respect on his comeback. He's worth noting in the betting. Current Option was second to Lancaster House in a Curragh Group 3 last month, but the Irish raider does have a penalty to concede against this field and that makes things harder.
4.20 - Pertemps Handicap (7f)
David Loughnane's filly Ffion won a pair of Wolverhampton novices over 7f last year and returns from a break for her turf/handicap bow as the logical starting point in assessing this race. That winning Tapeta form alone doesn't leave her bombproof but she has the physical scope to develop and she is much-respected.
Boardman arrived from France with plenty going for him, seemingly, but six runs for two British trainer have not yielded a great deal of promise. He was well-backed last time at Redcar but never looked like delivering for his supporters. He is, however, tumbling down the ratings and the gelded son of Kingman will likely put it together somewhere soon.
King Of Tonga was allowed dictate at Musselburgh (7f, good) a week ago but still could only manage second spot. Cheekpieces are back on from this 1lb higher mark and he should run his race again.
EY UP ITS MICK was a 6f soft-ground course winner last July, a win he backed up soon after at Hamilton. He remained very consistent at 5f-7f through the remainder of last season and he should be much sharper for his recent comeback at Beverley. He was a 33/1 poke there and his chance evaporated with a slow start. He did make up good late ground however and, back up in trip, he should be able to build on that back here.
4.55 - Pertemps Network Intermediate Handicap Chase (2m4½f)
Alan King has a strong hand potentially with Senior Citizen and Deyrann De Carjac. The latter is very capable of going well off a break and so needs monitoring in the betting, while Adrian Heskin's mount backed up a good fourth in the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury in March by finishing third in last month's Topham at Aintree. The handicapper has relieved him of 2lb and he has everything in his favour for a big run.
Champagne Court came in for market support at Newton Abbot five weeks ago over a similar trip only to find one too strong, he has his chance again - as do Hes No Trouble, Fortified Account and Court Royale in what amounts to anyone's race.
FRANCKY DU BERLAIS might quickly leave behind a lesser run when favourite over 3m at Perth last month however. Jumping had become an asset for him in four previous chase starts this season, a trio of runner-up finishes preceding his win at Exeter (2m3f, soft) in January. His fencing let him down on the back of 101 days out and he might be able to bounce back down in trip.
5.35 - Pertemps Network Handicap Chase (2m3f)
A few of these struggle to put things together these days - Eamon An Cnoic and The Russian Doyen spring to mind - but would be very capable if managing to do so.
Top-weight The King Of May dons a pair of cheekpieces and takes a drop in class but the best option may be EXELERATOR EXPRESS for Neil Mulholland.
His Uttoxeter win in February had more than touch of good fortune about it but he was a close second next time at Market Rasen against a well-handicapped rival (third also won next time) and he himself scored again last month at Huntingdon. He's up another 6lb and rises in grade but he might well be capable of this. Newcastle winner Cracking Find and Ludlow runner-up Solar Impulse are also likely sorts.
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