Our Catching Pigeons insider rounds up the well-fancied runners from some of the major training centres.
Terrefort can lift the spirits at Seven Barrows with victory over King George VI Chase winner Clan des Obeaux in the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase at Ascot on Saturday. Nicky Henderson has been left with less potent ammunition to fire this weekend after the midweek tweak to the flu vaccination rules, but Terrefort could prove the value bet to beat Paul Nicholls' star after his encouraging return from the sidelines behind Frodon at Cheltenham last month.
One of last season's very best novice chasers, Terrefort is a notoriously lazy horse in his work at home and was expected to run a big race in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November but jumped poorly in his warm up race at Sandown and returned home injured. His neat and precise fencing suffered the most, but it was back close to its fluent best at Prestbury Park and connections believe he will come on a good deal from that run.
Getaway Trump can see off Al Dancer and win the Betfair Handicap Hurdle for Paul Nicholls. Novices have a terrific recent record in this race in recent years and this a number of leading youngsters have bright chances of keeping the run going in this year's renewal which was salved from Newbury last weekend. The selection’s form suggests he is one of the most talented and his fine effort behind Champ in a Grade One at Newbury on his latest start looks very solid. The way he travelled that day suggests he will cope with the step back to two miles and he looks well handicapped.
Waiting Patiently failed to complete the course after being badly hampered when well fancied in the 32 Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but he can put things right in the Betfair Ascot Chase. An impressive winner of this race 12 months ago, he may have slightly more on his plate this time around but the race should be run to suit him and his smart turn of foot can rove decisive.
Magic Saint has flattered to deceive in his two outings so far over longer distances at Haydock and Ascot for the Nicholls team and is fancied to make it third time lucky in the Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap Chase at Wincanton. The step back to two miles and drying ground should suit and the race has cut up from the five-day stage.
Robinsfirth can land a deserved big prize in the William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock. Despite being a ten-year-old, Colin Tizzard’s gelding has been only lightly raced over fences and his excellent second to Sue Smith's grand old stager Wakanda in the Peter Marsh here last month was a sterling effort given he had a few adventures along the way. He was making his seasonal comeback there too and is sure to be sharper for the outing. Going even further up in trip will suit and has the in-form Sean Bowen doing the steering.
Laskadine won very cosily on her first appearance for the Henderson team at Warwick last mont and is fancied to follow up in the listed OLBG Mares Hurdle. Although she lacks the experience of some of her rivals here, she gets a healthy weight-for-age allowance and has progressed well at home from her win at the Midlands course.
Luckofthedraw is just preferred to course-and-distance winner Scorpion Sid in the William Hill Bookmaker Limited Handicap Chase. Nigel Twiston-Davies has been bringing this six-year-old on steadily and he did well when going down by only three-quarters-of-a-length to subsequent winner Didero Vallis at Carlisle on his latest start. He was conceding his rival five pounds there and looks nicely weighted here.
Roger Charlton’s Chop Chop looks one of the more interesting runners on show in Ladbrokes Novice Stakes at Lingfield. The Beckhampton trainer will be hoping to do as well with this daughter of Rip Van Winkle as he did with her dam Mince and her grand dam Strut. Mince made a notable move forward as a three-year-old and her first foal looks worth following in her second season whatever she achieves here.
Charlie Mann has enjoyed a profitable winter and it may pay to take a chance with Ivilnoble in the Mansionbet National Hunt Novices Hurdle at Huntingdon on Sunday. There was a lot to like about his debut effort over timber at Doncaster in December and he produced another decent effort at Chepstow on his only subsequent start, despite not seeing out the three miles trip there. The return to a flat track and shorter distance should suit him better and he can reverse the Doncaster form with Hold The Note, who is now six pounds worse off for his three-quarters-of-a-length success.