Our Catching Pigeons insider rounds up the well-fancied runners from some of the major training centres.
Champ - 3.00 Newbury
Champ can live up to his name and win his first Grade One in the Betway Challow Hurdle.
Only beaten by the very smart Vinndication in four outings over hurdles so far, he surprised connections with his victory over this course and distance a month ago. The Nicky Henderson team were concerned that he would need the run on his return from his summer break, but that assertion proved well wide of the mark.
After taking a strong grip under Aidan Coleman, he pulled his way to the front at the fifth and ran on strongly when challenged from the second last. This race became the automatic target in his bid to extend his winning sequence to four immediately after that success, and he has pleased his trainer with his work since.
Dragon D’Estruval - 1.50 Newbury
Dragon D’Estruval, a stablemate of Champ, sidestepped a tempting target at a Kempton on Boxing Day in favour of the Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap Hurdle and the switch can be handsomely rewarded.
There was plenty of stable confidence behind the five-year-old at this course just over four weeks ago, but he was in need of the run more than expected and faded to finish seventh after travelling strongly into the straight. Connections have also opted to bring him back in trip, and he should prove hard to beat after some solid subsequent homework on the Faringdon Road gallops.
Wilde Blue Yonder - 3.35 Newbury
Wilde Blue Yonder does not exactly possess the jumping record over hurdles to suggest he can fly high over fences, but he has schooled very well at Barbury Castle, and if he does treat the larger obstacles with more respect, could reward an each-way interest in the Betway Novices' Handicap Chase. He always threatened to be smart, and his launch rating of 134 looks workable.
Lady Cylla (12.55 Doncaster)
Tom Lacey’s well bred Lady Cylla can step up on her troubled debut effort at Warwick in the Napoleons Casino Restaurant And Bar Juvenile Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster.
Quietly fancied to run a big race in what was a decent junior bumper over a mile and three quarters, she suffered interference on more than one occasion and made up an eye-catching amount of ground after turning for home with just two behind her. She gave the impression this step up to two miles would suit, and whatever she does here, she is worth noting for the future.
Hold The Note (12.20 Doncaster)
Hold The Note is highly rated by the Mick Channon camp after a couple of classy efforts in bumpers and he ran a sound race behind the smart I Can't Explain on his hurdling debut in the Sandown mud three weeks ago. He will appreciate better ground in the MansionBet National Hunt Novices Hurdle and the extra yardage here will also play to his strengths.
Battle Of Shiloh (1.30 Doncaster)
Battle Of Shiloh has been on the casualty list over the past couple of seasons so it was very good to see him make such an eye-catching comeback behind Favorito Bucks at Ascot last month. Tom George has given him plenty of time to recover from what was an 11-month lay-off, and he looks to have found a good opportunity to make up for lost time in the MansionBet Handicap Chase.
Diablo De Rouhet - 12.55 Haydock, Sunday
Diablo De Rouhet seemed to run out of stamina when well fancied on his reappearance over three miles at Chepstow, and looks worth another chance on his fencing bow in the Bet At Racing.com Beginners Chase at Haydock on Sunday.
Jo Hughes' gelding was travelling strongly turning for home and both his bumper and hurdles form suggest he has plenty of ability and scope to improve. He should more than make his presence felt in a race which has cut up drastically from the five day stage.
On The Blind Side - 1.25 Cheltenham, Tuesday
On The Blind Side gave the Henderson team plenty of headaches after a lucrative first half of last season, but he is back in very good heart now and is expected to make his eagerly awaited debut over fences in the Grade Two Dipper Novices Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
The seven-year-old has class written all over him, and his schooling over birch at home has been very encouraging. Support is advised.
Divine Spear - 2.00 Cheltenham, Tuesday
Divine Spear, a stablemate of On The Blind Side, could prove a value each-way bet in the Download The Betbright App Handicap Chase.
One of the least experienced in the field, he won two of his three starts before injury curtailed his campaign and he was forced to miss the Festival here in March. However, he is back in A1 nick now, and has the stature to suggest he can continue to improve. He is another to note for handicaps in the second half of the season.