2.20: Josh Gifford is rarely reluctant to praise his charges but he does rate MR MARKHAM a ``very exciting prospect . . . who could be a star in the making''. The trainer's hopes may well be justified with this dual bumper winner whose sole defeat last season came when he was a creditable fifth in the Cheltenham Festival's top quality NH Flat race won by Florida Pearl. This is the five-year-old's first public run over obstacles but he should hold the likely challenge from Polydamas. Kim Bailey's gelding also has loads of potential and can be forgiven a poor display at Stratford a fortnight ago because he swallowed his tongue. It will be tied down today.
2.55: Dublin Flyer, a bold-jumping front-runner who loves this track, can be expected to stay on stoutly up the hill despite his big weight. By the straight, his rider Brendan Powell will be hoping to have burned the speed out of his rivals. Challenger Du Luc has claims but needs to improve to overhaul Dublin Flyer. Bertone travels well in his races and was a fine Ascot winner last time. However, this eight-year-old has been prone to jumping errors in the past and will be tested by today's stiff fences. Potter's Bay is a progressive young chaser who has shown a liking for this track. But carrying 16lb more than his true handicap mark hands him a very tough task. SPARKY GAYLE is at short odds but but was unbeaten in six races over fences last term. This afternoon's opposition will be no pushover, but Brian Storey's mount can hardly be opposed off this low mark.
3.30: Inchcailloch has the ground to suit, but it could be that he's best on a right-handed track. Celtic Abbey, a smart hunter chaser, was still running and jumping well in the Grand National when unseating his rider at The Chair. A big horse, he is likely to be better for today's outing. FLYER'S NAP also makes his seasonal debut, but his trainer reports that this 11-year-old is fit enough to do himself justice. He showed his appreciation for this course when winning here at the Festival in March. If Banjo blazes off in front, as he used to, this will help David Bridgwater to produce Flyer's Nap with a customary late thrust.
4.05: Turnpole was already a decent hurdler but can certainly be expected to do even better now that he returns to timber after showing improvement on the Flat. Last month he won the Cesarewitch (2m 2f) with a flourish at Newmarket. Young Kenny was a promising novice last season and any rain would improve this six-year-old's already good prospects here. The same remarks applies to the Irish-trained mare Young Mrs Kelly, who has done her winning in muddy conditions so far. If the ground remains on the fast side, however, PLEASURELAND should go nicely at decent odds. The form of his second to Trainglot at Ascot back in April makes encouraging reading.Reuse content