Alan Dudman returns for the next seven days, with a bonus appearance from Alan Thompson for Friday's great racing, and our man is looking to get off to a good start at Chepstow and Kempton...
"With that under his belt, he's primed for a big run here. He finished third in the race 12 months ago, and he really attacked from the front, and he set a searching gallop."
Yala can build on his comeback run with big effort in the Welsh National
14:50 Chepstow - Back Yala Enki @ 11.521/2
Yala Enki is the horse I am most interested in backing for the feature Welsh National, and with conditions to suit, I am happy taking around 9.08/1 on him.
He looked as though he needed his comeback run for the season in the Ladbrokes Trophy last time. That was his first outing since the wind op, and also his debut run for Paul Nicholls since the switch from Venetia Williams.
With that under his belt, he's primed for a big run here. He finished third in the race 12 months ago, and he really attacked from the front, and he set a searching gallop.
Mud suits, in fact the deeper the better. I expect him to go well.
Pictons to make no mistake at Kempton
15:05 Kempton - Back Belami Des Pictons @ BSP
Belami Des Pictons hasn't been seen too much in recent times, so it's pleasing he is back for his second run of the campaign for this cracking 3m handicap chase, and whilst he hasn't exactly been missed on the Sportsbook with a price of 5/2, I do think he is the likeliest winner.
I backed him last time at Cheltenham over 2m4f in the race behind Happy Diva. His usual style of being up with the pace or making the running was ditched over a shorter trip than ideal, so it was a perfectly satisfactory return to action.
And the fact he is backing up that return for this is a good sign considering he was absent for the whole of 2018.
He was a good novice and a fine jumper, and there are still some nice prizes in handicaps to be won from his current mark of 145. He's another that enjoys the soft ground and a return to 3m will certainly suit.
It's time for Acey Milan to return to winning ways
Anthony Honeyball's yard are flying and can take this with his five-year-old gelding Acey Milan. A very talented bumper horse, wining three of his five starts. a summer wind operation has seen him get his act together over hurdles. He has finished second on his last two starts and only the 144 rated Stoney Mountain got the better of him in a Grade Three over three miles when last seen. He has only received a 4lb rise for that effort and with Rex Dingle, who rode him last time, taking 3lb off and this drop in class, it looks like a great opportunity for him to return to winning ways.
Ask Dillon and Clyne look like the ones to cause the selection the most trouble. The former is running in his first handicap and could be well-in as he has been progressive over hurdles. It's been 255 days since his last run and he could need this reappearance but he did sign off last season with a facile win at Exeter over two-miles-five so you would expect there would be more to come up in trip. Clyne could be more of a threat, he was very well backed into favourite last time out at Aintree. He could only finish fourth that day and he hasn't had too much racing over this trip so that would be a concern.
It's a good race but I think Acey Milan will have enough to see off this field.
Sceau Royal can get back to winning ways
Connections of Sceau Royal will be pleased to see that his regular rival Altior isn't in the line-up for this two mile Desert Orchid Chase - he has chased home the superstar in three of his last five starts. So with him not in the picture this looks a perfect opportunity for Alan King's 164 rated charge to find his way back in the winner's enclosure.
They will certainly find this race easier than their last attempt which was last month's Tingle Creek at Sandown, where he ran well for a long way before fading late on. He looks the class act in this line-up and the Champion Chase third should be suited by the sharp nature of this track, so for me he rates as the one that they all have to beat.
Capeland is an interesting runner in the field and it could be a shrewd bit of placing by Paul Nicholls should it come off (read the Betfair Ambassador's verdict here). The recent Ascot winner took a big step forward when winning with plenty to spare, winning by 12 lengths, last time out. However, he will have to improve again if he is to manage another step up in class against this opposition.
Alan Dudman's P&L
2019 Overall: +1.75
This week so far....
*All bets to a 0.5pt stake unless stated otherwise