Voy Por Ustedes is back today and sets a formidable standard, having confirmed himself more comfortable nowadays over this kind of distance when only narrowly foiled in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. He made a costly blunder there, however – not for the first time this season – and the presence, round this quick circuit, of a rival as aggressive as Nacarat means that he cannot afford any more inattentive jumping this time.
Even though they are contemporaries, Nacarat (3.10) is unmistakably represents a new force in steeplechasing. He catapulted himself out of handicaps in the Racing Post Chase last time, in the process confirming himself very much at home on a flat, sharp track. With that in mind he was kept away from Cheltenham, and arrives as a fresh, progressive horse. As such he is certainly entitled to improve past Tidal Bay, who in contrast seems to be losing enthusiasm.
Weapon's Amnesty and Pride Of Dulcote gave each other a brutal race at Cheltenham and Karabak (4.20) can pick up the pieces in the Citroë*Sefton Novices' Hurdle. Like Voy Por Ustedes, he contributed to an exasperating Festival for Alan King, caught out by a steady pace before finishing really strongly up the hill, beaten only by a top class prospect in Mikael d'Haguenet. This longer trip should suit him well.
Massini's Maguire was another who had a pretty tough time at the Cheltenham Festival, and perhaps Shining Gale (next best, 2.35) will instead prove ready for a return to the big league in the Matalan Mildmay Novice Chase, having retrieved his confidence at a lower level after his fall at Christmas.
The card opens with a cracking showdown between Somersby, a top prospect for fences next season, and American Trilogy (2.0), who produced a breathtaking performance at Cheltenham and proved himself very much at home over this track in the autumn.
Oodachee (3.45) could be value for the John Smith's Topham Trophy, having coped with the big fences when fifth in the race last year and much better in the headgear he wears this time. He only faded on the run-in when returning from a long absence at the Festival.
Mamlook (nap, 4.55) did well to get himself involved at Cheltenham, however briefly, after being losing his position when hampered. Those efforts told on the hill but with the faster ground in his favour, this smart Flat performer can enjoy what is becoming an overdue payday over jumps in the Totepool Handicap Hurdle.