14:05 Sandown - Dolores Delightful shaped extremely well on her handicap debut at Newbury recently, staying on strongly in the closing stages to finish a clear-cut second, and there looks to be plenty of improvement still to come. The fact that Dolores Delightful comes into this contest fresher than most is an obvious positive at this stage of the season, and she will be well suited by softening conditions placing the emphasis firmly on stamina. In such a competitive opening contest we will also add the Paul Nicholls-trained Keltus to the permutation as he comes into this on the back of his best effort yet, an excellent fourth in the Fred Winter, and, considering the way he powered home up the Cheltenham hill, will be well suited by a greater test of stamina.
14:20 Haydock - Sir Reginald doesn't have the best of strike rates but he shaped well on a number of occasions last season and has returned in good heart this term, hitting the frame on both outings, producing an especially encouraging performance when fourth at Doncaster last time. Sir Reginald remains on a fair mark and the booking of leading rider Ryan Moore could be enough to see the six-year-old get his head back in front.
14:50 Ripon - Barkston Ash looked better than ever when winning over C&D just nine days ago and he should make another bold bid. Eric Alston's sprinter had things go his own way to an extent last time, able to dictate terms having broken well, but he was ultimately well on top and is entitled to the utmost respect under conditions which evidently suit.
15:25 Haydock - The key piece of form to this event could well prove to be the Spring Cup at Newbury which was won by Gabrial's Kaka, and the Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old has to be considered given his lightly-raced and progressive profile. The horse to take out of the Spring Cup, though, could well prove to be Foxtrot Romeo who showed up well for a long way on his first start for Marco Botti before eventually weakening to finish in mid-division. Foxtrot Romeo produced a decidedly useful effort when finishing runner-up in the Irish 2000 Guineas two years ago and has slipped to a very attractive mark following a spell in the wilderness; he is worth another chance for his top yard.
15:30 Ripon - Bayan produced a cracking effort when finishing third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, proving better than ever in fact, and he looks well treated on his return to the Flat. Gordon Elliott's charge comes into this contest as a fresh horse having been kept back specifically for the Cheltenham Festival, and he remains with untapped potential as a stayer on the Flat, yet to run over this two-mile trip which promises to suit based on his hurdling exploits (stays 21f).
15:50 Sandown - Last year's runner-up Same Difference has been largely out of sorts this season, but he has slipped to a fair mark as a consequence, allowed to race off a mark of 137, fully 7lb lower than the one he raced off in last year's renewal, and encouragement can be taken from his fifth in the Kim Muir last month. He obviously comes with risks attached but at least we know that he stays and he is simply too well handicapped to ignore. Also worth including in the permutation is the unexposed Ardkilly Witness, representing the red-hot yard of Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland. Ardkilly Witness has fewer miles on the clock than many of his rivals and he has made a good impression during his novice campaign, winning on two occasions and putting up some creditable performances in handicaps which suggest that his current mark is not beyond him. Arguably his best effort came when second in a heavy-ground three-mile contest, the stiffest stamina test that he has encountered, and he should give a good account.
14:05- 6, 13
15:50- 16, 17
4 lines @ £2 = £8
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