Tony Calvin runs the rule over the Saturday afternoon action at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton and selects three intriguing bets...
The Grand National Trial at Haydock looks as competitive as 13-runner handicaps get - I couldn't rule out any of the field - but Warrantor looks well worth chancing at [20.0] or bigger in the 15:15.
I won't bore you about the opposition because I respect them all - though Kerry Lee was at pains to point out that Goodtoknow is fancied to run well when I spoke to her at the now infamous Grand National Weights launch on Tuesday night - but there is a lot of pace in this race and that should suit the selection.
He travels strongly into his races when on song and he looked the likeliest winner from two out on his return when a length second to Viconte Du Noyer over an extended 3m3f at Cheltenham in November.
That form hasn't really worked out and he failed to back up that performance at the same track on New Year's Day behind Tour Des Champs, but there are reasons to think that he may bounce back here.
I think this more conventional, flatter track will suit him better, as will the fact that Haydock's fences are far less daunting. His sometimes unconvincing jumping could be why he was taken very wide on both Cheltenham starts this season, forfeiting a lot of ground on each occasion presumably so he could get a clear sight at his fences.
Another positive factor could be the good to soft ground here. I know he is a heavy-ground winner but, given the way he travels in his races, I think the better ground could be in his favour. Expect him to be played late in the straight.
Nothing stands out in the other race at Haydock on ITV4, the Rendlesham at 14:05 so over to Ascot we go.
Cue Card a worthy favourite for Betfair Ascot Chase
We have to start with the Betfair Ascot Chase at 15:35 which offers Colin Tizzard a gilt-edged opportunity to claw back 85k in his trainers' title battle with Paul Nicholls.
It is another nod to the longevity of Cue Card that he won this race in 2013 and it will be very disappointing if he can't see off a field on which he has upwards of 9lb in hand of on official figures.
The proximity of the horses immediately behind him suggests he underperformed by a fair way in the King George - and that isn't taking anything away from the winner, Thistlecrack - and that led some people to beat the "he is better going left-handed" drum.
The majority of his wins have come that way round but he a dual Grade 1 winner going right-handed, and I'd be inclined to blame the Kempton run on the good ground, just as connections did when he was beaten by Irish Cavalier in the Charlie Hall.
If the going remains, and rides, soft at Ascot on Saturday then I can't see any of these beating him, as course favourite Royal Regatta should give him a good tow into the contest. But, then again, he is about a [1.43] poke, so I am hardly telling you something you don't know.
I think Arpege D'Alene is very much the one to beat in the Reynoldstown at 13:50 but the doubts about whether he is fully effective over this distance stops me from having a bet on him at short odds.
One thing is for sure and that is if he has the pace to win this race over a trip just shy of 3m then I would be very encouraged indeed by his chances in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, for which he is a very fair 12/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook and [13.0] and bigger on the exchange.
You may want to take a piece of those odds in the four-miler before this race, as I believe that is very much the plan for the horse.
Hopefully, he isn't overly-impressive here and they then start thinking about the RSA...
Sausalito Sunrise will take some stopping
I put up O'Faolains Boy at [40.0] for the Grand National on Wednesday so I am obviously hoping that he runs a screamer on his return in the 14:25. The race has really cut up, too.
He looks very well-handicapped off a mark of 148 these days and he won the Reynoldstown on this card three years ago, so he must go well if his trainer is correct and he comes here in good order.
But I am putting up a horse he beat by 15 lengths off levels at Newbury last season, in the shape of Sausalito Sunrise. He is the only horse in the race that doesn't like to go forward, so the strong tempo could really suit him.
He is still in the Gold Cup, as well as the Grand National, despite not setting the world alight in three runs this season. But he has been dropped 3lb as a result and is now only 5lb higher than when a ridiculously impressive 12-length winner of this race last season from Vieux Lion Rouge.
If he is in the same form then he will take some stopping and rates a fair bet at [6.6] or bigger.
The big danger could be Chef D'Oeuvre, who could prove to be very well-handicapped off a mark of 130, and Jamie Bargary takes off another 3lb. However, I am sure his trainer will have loved a wetter weak for his mud-lover, though, and I've just noticed he is 5lb out of the handicap, too. So I'll pass!
Templeross can triumph over strong rivals
The handicap hurdle at 15:00 looks a very tricky race but Templeross looks a very worthy favourite after his second in a Lanzarote Hurdle which is working out very well, with the third and fifth bolting up by wide margins next time.
Indeed, the more you look, the stronger the form gets. The fourth Old Guard ran well when a 33-1 chance in the Cleeve Hurdle; the sixth hasn't run since; the seventh was a good third in a Sandown handicap; and the ninth Sam Red finished second in a Wetherby handicap earlier this month.
I rarely put up favourites - and Wolfcatcher did tempt me on his debut for Ian Williams - but Templeross could be thrown in here off just a 3lb higher mark and he rates a small-stakes bet at [6.0] or bigger.
Yanworth opposable at Wincanton
I am probably a glutton for punishment after laying Altior last week - no sniggering at the back please - but I will probably look to oppose Yanworth on the exchange at a similar price in the Kingwell Hurdle at 14:45 once the market firms up.
I know the opposition is pretty thin on the ground at Wincanton but I am far from convinced that the horse is a two-miler or jumps well enough to win a Champion Hurdle - nor do connections it seems as he is tried in first-time cheekpieces - so over 1m7f56yd around here then I will try and get against him, hopefully around the 4/6 mark.
In class terms this 164-rated hurdler should stroll home here but even after his Kempton defeat of The New One - where the runner-up was softened up by a My Tent Of Yours given a new pressing brief, and therefore didn't run up to his best - I am still a non-believer of him in Cheltenham terms.
It will probably cost me to find out more against him, but that's betting. Follow me in if you want but I won't put up a betting recommendation on him here.
Back Sausalito Sunrise at [6.6] in the 14:25 at Ascot
Back Templeross bet at [6.0] or bigger in the 15:00 at Ascot
Back Warrantor at [20.0] in the 15:15 at Haydock