1.38 - Matchbook Betting Exchange 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (1m7f)
It's been a sedate start to 2022 for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and that slow-burning run includes just one winner from 11 starters here at Wincanton, his local track. That's a win-rate that is unlikely to survive too long, given the Ditcheat supremo had a 28 per-cent strike-rate here last year, and 29 per-cent in 2020.
French import GRIVETANA can provide Nicholls and Bryony Frost with a quick start to proceedings. The No Risk At All filly ran out an impressive winner of a 13-runner juvenile hurdle at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in early December on testing ground before making the move to this handler and this looks a good starting point getting weight from her elders.
Fairly Famous made a decent first appearance for Olly Murphy at Warwick five weeks ago, finishing fourth, and may build on that now, while Callisto's King occupied the same finishing berth at Doncaster last month hurdles bow and looks the pick of Dan Skelton's pair here.
Next Best: Callisto's King
2.13 - Get 20 Risk Free On Matchbook Handicap Chase (2m4f)
He's a 12YO now but Native Robin is clearly on great terms with himself after wins at this venue on Boxing Day and again in January for the Jeremy Scott team.
He was nothing if not game at Christmas, but last month's win saw him dominating in front and cruising away to win by a dozen lengths. He has his chance again, albeit his 8lb rise leaves him on a career-high mark.
ANTUNES shaped with better purpose over hurdles here at the start of this month and now reverts to chasing on what's only his second start for trainer Milton Harris, who is enjoying a real stellar season.
This will be just his eighth start over fences and it's worth recalling he won twice last season for Dan Skelton. His most recent start over fences at Exeter was in December off a mark of 138 in a handicap won by the rapidly progressive L'homme Presse, so he's forgiven being pulled up there.
He's rated 11lb lower this afternoon and this looks a much more manageable assignment.
Go Steady also had some promising form over fences last season for the Skelton yard and, having run well in three hurdles starts this season including a win at Leicester in December, he's got decent claims of enhancing his 5-11 strike-rate back in this code.
Next Best: Go Steady
2.48 - Matchbook Betting Podcast Handicap Chase (3m1f)
Another thriving old-timer here as Max Dynamo arrives bidding for a hat-trick after wins at Fontwell (3m2f, good to firm) in May and here (3m2½f, good) last month on his two most recent starts, the latter coming not long after his 12th birthday.
He's only up 4lb for that win last time, and he's carrying bottom-weight, but this is still a more demanding assignment on paper.
Heavey is the other last-time-out winner in the mix, having opened his account over fences at the tenth time of asking with a C&D success early last month in a novices' handicap chase. Neil Mulholland's charge will look to build on that now, though again, this is tougher.
JOHNNY B has had more than enough near misses over hurdles to do him, including when second at Exeter this month over just shy of three-miles. This has an open look about it and perhaps Page Fuller's mount can enjoy a change of fortune now turning his hand to jumping fences after that good effort recently.
Selection: Johnny B
Next Best: Heavey
3.20 - Matchbook Betting Exchange Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2, 1m7f)
GOSHEN won this by 22-lengths last season and looked to be right back on track before being easily repelled in Grade 1 contests at the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals.
This season appeared to have uncovered far more questions for Gary Moore's talented, if hard to predict speedster, following defeats at Ascot (twice) and Lingfield but he bounced back at Sandown (2m, good to soft) earlier this month when bounding up the home straight for a 15-length victory from Guard Your Dreams in a Listed event.
There's almost always an 'if' with Goshen, but if he turns up here in the same mood then Jamie Moore's mount will take some stopping in his quest for a sixth win over hurdles. All of his previous hurdles scores (and indeed three flat wins) have come by wide margins, so his supporters will likely know their fate well before the winning line.
The danger looms in the shape of David Pipe's Adagio. He was a Grade 1-winning juvenile last season on soft ground at Chepstow and would finish second-best at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring in top races.
November's return following a wind operation saw him a close second behind West Cork in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham off a mark of 147. That's always a quality early-season event and has typically thrown up plenty winners since.
Tom Scudamore's mount gets 3lb from his main market rival here, leaving him with little to find on official ratings, but the suspicion is that if Goshen runs as well as he did in this contest a year ago (and his recent Sandown score suggests he might), then Adagio will require a clear personal-best to go with him.
Both Faivoir (who has been chasing so far this season) and Llandinabo Lad are going to require the big two to underperform.
Next Best: Adagio
3.58 - Matchbook Better Way To Bet Handicap Hurdle (2m5½f)
After wins at Chepstow and Newcastle - latterly over 2m6f in November - the Paul Nicholls-trained Mr Glass suffered his first defeat in the Tolworth at Sandown last month when dropped right back to two-miles for a crack at that Grade 1 novice prize.
That contest was of course won so impressively by Supreme Novices' favourite Constitution Hill, so it's not really anything to be beating the Ditcheat inmate up over. Runner-up Jetoile failed to keep going from the front recently in Newbury's Betfair Hurdle but the Tolworth fourth, Shallwehaveonemore, was a very easy winner back at the Esher venue this month.
An opening mark of 127 could well be within reach for Mr Glass under Bryony Frost now.
MASTER DEBONAIR ran a cracker in a Seniors' Handicap Hurdle at Taunton (2m3f, good to soft) last month, only found out late on by Dorking Boy (who was getting 11lb from him). Harry Fry's 8YO was inched up 1lb for that effort and is given a chance to build on it now in what will be his first crack at this increased trip.
Trincomalee carried on the fine form he'd shown last spring when he won after a break at Uttoxeter (2m7½f, good) in October and, while rated 4lb higher, he won't have any issues at this slightly shorter trip and must go on the shortlist for the Lucy Wadham team.
Selection: Master Debonair
Next Best: Mr Glass
4.33 - Better Odds At Matchbook Handicap Chase (3m1f)
ASK ME EARLY won all three completed starts over fences last season for trainer Harry Fry, those wins all at around three-miles at Chepstow and Uttoxeter. After a summer wind op, he landed novices hurdle wins at Exeter and Chepstow in November/December and he returns to this discipline with clear potential for further progress.
David Pipe's El Paso Wood won by a wide-margin here last month over further and was only nabbed late on by Rapper over C&D this month (pair a long way clear). He's gone up 5lb for that near miss but again has Phillip Armson claiming from his back and they should be right in there pitching again at the death.
I See You Well was a Plumpton winner at this trip in December and put up a fine effort when second last time at Fontwell over further. He's been rather hit and miss this term but is capable if on a going day.
Selection: Ask Me Early
Next Best: El Paso Wood
5.05 - Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Hurdle (2m5½f)
Adam West's Zyon put his best foot forward at Kempton last weekend, scoring back over hurdles for the first time this season. He's 4lb higher for that win but could go well again in what appears a trying finale for punters.
Lucky Lara remains a maiden with low miles on the clock but last month's stable bow for Harriet Brown over fences at Taunton was encouraging after more than 300 days off. The mare has her chance to build on that now off a mark of 100 with Thomas Doggrell taking off 7lb.
Getaway Cory was well supported at Exeter in December but he couldn't reward that faith and is now 0-11 over hurdles. A pair of first-time cheekpieces will need to bring about improvement from him.
After three so-so efforts in maiden/novice company, WILLIAM PHILO went off 33/1 for his handicap bow at Fontwell (2m5½f, soft) in December and duly found plenty for pressure when staying on determinedly all the way up the home straight to spring a surprise.
He went up 6lb for that, but the excellent Bryan Carver can offset half of that and there may well be more improvement to come in any case for the Robert Walford-trained 5YO.
Selection: William Philo
Next Best: Lucky Lara