Leading commentator Mike Cattermole looks ahead to Sunday's card at Cheltenham with Dr Richard Newland backed to land the Greatwood.
We all know that Gordon Elliott has enjoyed a fabulous strike rate in Britain this season (40%) and that Nicky Henderson has also got off to a superb start too, with a 35% hit rate.
However, one man who has not got anywhere near the firepower of that pair but is operating at a 34% win rate right now is Dr Richard Newland and I reckon the good doctor could take the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday with Storm Rising.
Since joining the Worcestershire trainer, Storm Rising has looked a different horse over hurdles, absolutely hacking up here at Cheltenham and then a week later under no penalty at Wetherby.
The handicapper has taken note of course and upped him a stone to a mark of 137 but he looked to have any amount in hand on both occasions. Although this is a much harder race, he travels so well in his races, perhaps too well, and the better company and stronger gallop should suit him.
Bear in mind that he was rated 90 on the Flat when trained by Richard Hannon, it is clear that he is now starting to fulfil his potential over hurdles. The drying ground is also ideal for him.
The surface will also suit Verdana Blue who looked in great order at both Kempton and Wincanton and is expected to run a huge race here in her hat-trick bid on a 5lb higher mark. It is no surprise that she is the favourite but, if she were to prevail, it would be a first in the race for the champion trainer.
The progressive Silver Streak is another chasing a third successive win and having won the Swinton Hurdle on good ground at Haydock in May, he came back to take the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las (good to soft). He too has been upped 5lb but is respected.
Midnight Shadow, who won the Scottish Champion Hurdle on good ground at Ayr last April, shaped well at Wetherby on his reappearance and will also make his presence felt.
There is no Altior in the Schloer Chase and the Henderson team rely on Brain Power who apparently is a rarity at home as he can actually lie up with the stable star on the gallops.
He is very talented, no doubt, but Sceau Royal was getting the better of him when Brain Power lost his rider at the last in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown last December.
Sceau Royal went on to win again at Doncaster but an injury to a suspensory meant he missed the rest of the season. He remains a high-class prospect and can justify favouritism in this.
Earlier, the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial looks a cracker with several nice types. Defi Du Seuil was the best of them over hurdles but was never near the form of his juvenile season in two starts last term, although he is said to have schooled well.
Claimantakinforgan was a smart novice hurdler and was fifth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; he cruised home on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter.
Dynamite Dollars was not as smart a hurdler as those two but he looked a different horse – a natural - when he tackled fences for the first time at Market Rasen as he swept aside the useful Highway One O One last month.
The runner-up then put up a very useful performance when winning again at Carlisle last week.
Dynamite Dollars, who also put up by far the best time of the day at Rasen, is taken to upset a few of the better known names here.
Mike Cattermole's selections
1.50 DYNAMITE DOLLARS, 2.25 SCEAU ROYAL, 3.00 STORM RISING