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12.20 - MansionBet Cheers To 2021 Mares' Handicap Hurdle (2m)
Having proved a bit frustrating early on over hurdles, Mystic Dreamer came good at Exeter (2m1f, soft) in November under Tabitha Worsley for the Nick Gifford team. That form was given a boost when the runner-up won back at Exeter the week before Christmas and so the mare has to be on the shortlist again from an 8lb higher mark today.
She's A Novelty has shown enough in three starts in maiden/novice company to warrant a close look going handicapping for Fergal O'Brien's yard, while Fair Kate is only 1lb higher than when taking out this race last year for Tom Lacey and Richard Johnson.
However, it may pay instead to side with the claims of PANIC ATTACK for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore. She was a clear second at Huntingdon on hurdles bow back in October and justified favouritism to get on the scoresheet next time out at Uttoxeter (2m, soft) in ready fashion.
She didn't appear to run her race since at Cheltenham in a big-field handicap, but that's the second time she has found the undulations of Prestbury Park against her. The daughter of Canford Cliffs has been dropped 6lb by the assessor after just one start in this sphere and, returned to a flat track, might be good enough to take maximum advantage.
12.55 - MansionBet App 'Introductory' Hurdle (2m)
Second spot on debut at Ffos Las (2m, soft) was a reasonable effort from GOWEL ROAD last month. He briefly looked to have got odds-on favourite and well-thought-of Bear Ghylls in trouble, going down just over a length in the end. That rival is 3-3 under rules and, with standard improvement expected, Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge should prove tough to topple here under son Sam.
Paul Nicholls' French import Good Ball dons a first-time hood on his UK bow, he was second over sticks at Auteuil on soft ground in October and must be monitored closely. Just In Time won five of his first nine starts on the Flat (turf) and attained a peak rating of 98 in doing so. He ran solid races in good company (including around here) in three starts after his comeback from 645 days off back in the summer-autumn and rates as an interesting recruit to the jumping game now.
1.30 - Mansionbet's Bet 10 Get 20 Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (2m6½f)
Demachine made it 2-2 over fences with a smooth Aintree success last month (3m, soft) and trainer Kerry Lee will be hopeful there's plenty more to come from him. He is lightly-raced and looks destined for a bright future in this sphere. There are dangers lurking however and this is a tougher question than the one he answered readily on Merseyside.
Sevarano and Young Wolf command close attention. The latter was a wide-margin winner at Exeter this month to make it 2-2 over fences. Only two rivals finished behind him, the race perhaps coming apart with Quick Wave and Westend Story coming down at the second last. Young Wolf has two wins and two seconds in four starts since July. He does have room to work on his jumping and has to cope with this drop in distance after a short break.
EQUUS DANCER might be the one to trump them all in what promises to be a good, and informative, contest. Peter Bowen's charge has landed successive wins at Sedgefield since switched to chasing and looks very much a six-year-old finding his niche.
With further improvement to come, a mark of 131 is by no means a ceiling for him and he can make the most of getting weight from his market rivals.
2.05 - MansionBet's Watch And Bet Handicap Hurdle (2m4½f)
Kateson can tend to be quite headstrong in front and he weakened markedly over 3m on good ground here on his penultimate start. First-time cheekpieces appeared to assist down to this distance since at Aintree and - up only 3lb - he may have a role to play again.
The market is likely to reflect that each of the seven contenders has some sort of a chance. Uttoxeter novice winner The Cob made a winning transition to handicaps at Haydock (2m3f, heavy) early this month. Ben Pauling's charge is up 5lb but is entitled to come forward again.
Nordic Combined is routinely consistent but may find that others are better equipped once stamina kicks in, ensuring that his Taunton conqueror Calva D'Auge is firmly expected to uphold those placings. Angus Cheleda gave him the perfect steer to win that race and is rewarded with another spin now for Paul Nicholls. They can be players but maybe class will out for CH'TIBELLO in what has already been a splendid festive week for the Skelton brothers.
He's raced exclusively in graded company since his County Hurdle win at Cheltenham in March 2019 and gave another solid account when beaten less than four lengths in the International Hurdle earlier this month in the Cotswolds, a race that featured the Christmas Hurdle winner Silver Streak in second spot.
He's got plenty of weight to give away to these rivals but he is the class act in the field and he might just be equal to it.
2.40 - MansionBet's Best Odds Guaranteed Mandarin Handicap Chase (3m2f)
Having won his first four completed starts over fences, MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN can be forgiven for coming up short at Cheltenham in October in a handicap where he finished a well-held fourth. The winner Frodon put some top-class rivals to the sword in winning the King George on Boxing Day while the third, Cloth Cap, won the Ladbrokes Trophy here on his next start.
On that basis, and with Emma Lavelle's string firing right now, Manofthemountain is fancied to get another success and make it three wins in three starts under Ben Jones.
The ground probably did for Kings Monarch at Haydock last month when attempting a marathon trip but the earlier Ffos Las winner may bounce back now for trainer Kerry Lee. He's shortlisted alongside the unexposed Colorado Doc, though the latter does have to prove his fitness after a layoff while he's also tackling a new distance.
The hat-trick seeking Cuban Pete (up 9lb now) and Ben Pauling's Nestor Park are others to pay close attention to in the betting.
3.15 - MansionBet Challow Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m4½f)
Only six in the line-up for this Grade 1 but five of them will fancy their chances, the exception being Enfant Roi, who has been chasing in France lately and is more exposed than the rest.
Between them, Does He Know, Star Gate, Wilde About Oscar and The Glancing Queen have won eight times over hurdles - the last-named three being unbeaten thus far, while Kim Bailey's charge has won all three starts this season and is improving quickly.
Wilde About Oscar is well thought of by the Skelton yard and came clear to win at Aintree last time. This is a considerable step up in class for him.
The Glancing Queen made the perfect start over jumps at Warwick, easily dispatching a pair of next-time-out winners, and has lots of scope for better. Star Gate, too, has visually impressed in wins at Chepstow and Sandown, putting a Grade 2 to bed in strides earlier this month.
Does He Know is also a Grade 2 winner last time out, justifying favouritism at Cheltenham in a Ballymore Trial, his second win of the season at that track.
Something has to give and it might be that BRAVESMANSGAME bursts some bubbles and hands Paul Nicholls his second Grade 1 of the festive season. He looked to have an abundance of talent in his C&D wins last month and, while he meets stern opposition now, it may well bring further development from him. He can take what looks to be a promising renewal of the Challow Novices' Hurdle, the final Grade 1 of the calendar year on British soil.
3.45 - MansionBet's Faller Insurance Handicap Chase (2m)
King D'Argent gets a chunky rise in the ratings after a winning start over fences at Warwick this month but he did that with any amount in hand and could be up to this with progress likely.
FUNAMBULE SIVOLA has plenty to spare when holding Exelerator Express back in second spot at Wetherby last month. It might be that the Sandown contest he contested only nine days later caught him out coming as quickly as it did, while it also looked like he didn't quite relish the longer trip. A late blunder saw him well held but, with a short break since and conditions to suit, he can confirm superiority over Neil Mulholland's charge despite the runner-up being 12lb better off here.
Bridle Loanan swatted his rivals aside at Fontwell last time and can be competitive up 8lb, while top-weight Shanacoole Prince is another arriving in good tune for a tough get-out stakes at Newbury.