12.10 - Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Listed, 2m½f)
Brian Ellison will have high hopes that MRS HYDE can cope with the penalty she carries for last month's Wetherby win in this grade, a success that enhanced her record to four wins in just five starts over timber.
She had previously set a track record when accounting for the smart prospect Fidelio Vallis at Kempton (2m, good) and built on that in Yorkshire when taking the notable scalp of Grade 1-winning Verdana Blue on soft ground.
Nicky Henderson's former Christmas Hurdle heroine travelled eye-catchingly well into that contest but Mrs Hyde rallied to the cause and justifiably held her at bay, the pair well clear of everything else (runner-up was getting 2lb despite being rated more than 20lb superior). A similar level of form here should make Jonjo O'Neill's mount the one to beat again.
The progressive Pink Sheets has yet to reach her peak, while Estella Ma Belle was an easy winner of a maiden hurdle at Fakenham on first start for Paul Nicholls last month, one of the rare bright performances from the Sullivan Bloodstock horses the Ditcheat handler picked up from Willie Mullins this summer. She's interesting stepped up in grade.
Also noteworthy is Midnight Ginger for trainer Alan King. She won on debut in a bumper at this track last December before running with credit in Listed company at Market Rasen in January on her only other start. She returned to action recently with a decisive novice hurdle win at Fakenham (2m, good) and looks to have scope for plenty more.
12.40 - Ladbrokes John Francome Novices' Chase (Grade 2, 2m7½f)
Paul Nicholls has interesting claims here as he fires both Southfield Stone and Next Destination into this Grade 2 contest.
The former has gone close in this grade already at Kempton (2m4½f, good to soft) in February and, following a winning comeback Cheltenham last month, finished second best (beaten 17-lengths) behind the smart prospect Protektorat this month back in the Cotswolds. It's not an obvious thing to conclude he's crying out for three-miles, but he could offer more if this stamina test suits him.
Next Destination had missed close to two-and-a-half-years from the track prior to his bow for Nicholls last month at Wetherby. He finished a fine second to Roksana in a Grade 2 three-miler there and, should he take to chasing at the first attempt, could have a major say. This being his second run back from such a long absence, there's reason to be cautious.
Acey Milan made a winning start his chasing career last month at Aintree (3m1f, soft) and is respected, with that race have thrown multiple winners since.
Anthony Honeyball's charge has always appeared in possession of plenty talent, without necessarily looking ready to fulfil his potential at times. He would be an each-way shout in most scenarios but, with only six runners, the value there is decreased.
KALOOKI quickly came forward as a novice hurdler last season, winning twice over 2m5f on soft ground in January/February at Ludlow and Wincanton before a fair second behind Ramses De Teillee in a Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Trial at Haydock over this trip on heavy ground in February.
His winning debut over fences here (2m6½f, good to soft) this month was far from foot perfect, but ultimately, he was going to win well even before the re-opposing One For The Team unshipped his rider at the final fence.
Philip Hobbs' six-year-old has a good engine seemingly and, if his fencing is sharpened both from that racecourse experience and some home schooling since, he may well make it 2-2 over these obstacles under former champion Richard Johnson.
1.15 - Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (2m6½f)
Kapcorse is 10lb higher in the ratings than when he won this race in 2018, holding off Brelan D'as in the same JP McManus colours. He twice ran over hurdles the following spring but hasn't been sighted since.
It would be quite a feat from Paul Nicholls if he can turn him out to win this again after 644 days on the easy list but, on the back of a wind op, it's churlish to rule him out.
Perhaps the Alan King-trainer Canelo - also in JP's silks - is more of a danger after his success at Aintree this month. He's gone up in the ratings for that and is in a deeper race this time around, however.
There are, of course, a host of possibilities. Cap Du Nord was fifth in this last year and returns after a pleasing comeback effort at Wincanton three weeks ago, Christian Williams will be hoping he has place claims at least.
HIGHEST SUN didn't go on from the promise of his Plumpton win last December (3m1½f, heavy), running only modest races in strong novice company early in the new year and then finishing seventh at the Cheltenham Festival in the race won by Imperial Aura.
He shaped better on his return to action at Hereford (2m5f, good to soft) this month despite some sketchy jumping that may have been down to rustiness.
He was beaten just over six-lengths in the end despite those issues and, with the Tizzard team tending to improve for a run this season, earns the nod to go well at an each-way price here under Robbie Power.
1.50 - Get Your Ladbrokes 1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle (2m4½f)
Tea Clipper (first) was strong in the finish last month at Chepstow when holding off the re-opposing Flash The Steel to win the Silver Trophy. The runner-up has had a tumble since at Hereford but cannot be factored out.
Tom Lacey's runner was perhaps suited by the omission of the final flight in Wales, though he also promises to be at home over this longer trip too. Ground conditions look to be fine (never run on soft) and he's got sound claims despite being raised 7lb.
In a tough puzzle, it's almost certainly worth considering handicap debutant ON THE WILD SIDE for the Dr Richard Newland team. He's race-fit after recent successes at Hexham (2m, good to soft/soft) and the way in which he finished those races off gives plenty hope he'll excel up in distance off what could be a lenient start mark of 128. With Charlie Hammond taking a further 3lb off, he's likely to be on the premises for his shrewd trainer.
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2.25 - Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle (Listed Handicap, 2m)
Marie's Rock is unbeaten in three runs (bumper and two hurdles, including a Listed win at Taunton in December when last out) and she's the clear market leader for the Nicky Henderson team ahead of this return to action.
She's not been seriously test thus far however and surely will be now. Also worth recalling that her Taunton win came in a contest where low sun wreaked havoc, ensuring they only left the ground on four occasions throughout. The form hasn't exactly proved to be overly strong either and, at around 11/8, she's opposable.
Stablemate Floressa could have more to give now handicapping while Sebastopol is back from a layoff but goes well fresh and remains unexposed for Tom Lacey.
The pair that make plenty appeal though are Botox Has and THYME WHITE. Gary Moore's charge is 3-4 since arriving from France, his only defeat when second to Allmankind in a Triumph Trial at Cheltenham last November.
He dismissed that rival (third) and runner-up The Pink'n at The Showcase Meeting last month and is on the up. He is though conceding weight all round on handicap bow and facing some unexposed sorts.
The Pink'n had previously finished second to Thyme White at Chepstow in early October and Paul Nicholls' charge has a bright future on that showing. That race has worked out well and is traditionally a good marker.
The handicapper hasn't missed him, with an 11lb higher mark to defy now. He looked very promising there however and would have been a leading fancy in the Greatwood at Cheltenham until heavy ground scuppered him on raceday.
Despite not getting any allowances for their tender years, four of the last eight winners in this race have been four-year-olds and Nicholls has admitted he likes to target the contest. Thyme White can reward him.
3.00 - Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Grade 3 Handicap, 3m2f)
A field of 18 for this prestigious contest and in truth a case can be made for at least half of them, such is the open nature of the race on paper.
Vinndication (second) had five-lengths in hand over Aye Right (third) in last month's Charlie Hall at Wetherby and Kim Bailey's charge probably lost little caste in defeat behind Cyrname that afternoon, the winner looking imperious throughout.
He's effectively off top-weight this afternoon with Ballyoptic's rider claiming 3lb but he may well have the class to go very close, in spite of the burden. Stablemate Two For Gold also took second spot on reappearance at the West Yorkshire venue last month and he gives the yard a very strong hand to play.
Cheltenham Festival winner The Conditional (had Vinndication behind) is respected but lacks a prep run and, in this white-hot battleground, that may count against him.
Secret Investor was impressive in dispatching Potterman at Chepstow last month and his trainer Paul Nicholls knows all about winning this event. His best work has come in small fields however and how he'll handle the traffic is the worry today.
The Colin Tizzard team are now finding their stride and COPPPERHEAD may be able to enhance their strong record in this contest. He looked very good when dispatching Two For Gold at Ascot (3m, soft) in February to complete a chase hat-trick. He couldn't justify his market position in the RSA at Cheltenham (fell) but it's too soon to be writing him off.
He had a hurdles run at Wetherby last month in a Grade 2 and, if now ready to go, may still be capable of better in this sphere as his canny trainer seeks a third win in five years.
3.35 - Watch Racing Free Online At Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (2m½f)
IBLEO's runner-up finish last month at Ascot in Listed company had the hallmarks of another step forward despite failing to leave with the top prize. Amoola Gold pulled out all the stops to deny him and Dan Skelton's runner rubberstamped that form back at the Berkshire track last weekend.
Venetia Williams' seven-year-old goes up 5lb in the ratings for that slender defeat and may still have more to offer.
Moonlighter's Haldon Gold Cup second behind Greaneteen thrusts his name firmly into the picture in this competitive finale and there he joins Hatcher and Zanza in holding each-way claims.
Hatcher will have gleaned plenty from last month's Cheltenham return where he finished seventh in a race won so impressively by Rouge Vif. He has been eased 2lb for that effort and Newbury ought to play more to his strengths. He's a viable contender each way while eight runners remain in the mix.
Next Best: Hatcher