Lostintranslation can enhance his credentials with victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, according to Ashley Iveson - he previews the Saturday racing.
Nap: Lostintranslation (3.00 Haydock)
Double: Altior (2.05 Ascot)
Lostintranslation can enhance his championship credentials with victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
A small but select field will go to post for the first Grade One contest of the British National Hunt season, with the betting headed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai.
Unlike Lostintranslation, the popular grey has already proved himself at the very highest level - and his love of Merseyside is in no doubt, having claimed this race in each of the last two years as part of his perfect four-from-four record at the track overall.
Bristol De Mai's subsequent third-placed finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup dispelled the notion he is a one-trick pony - and given he is clearly most potent when fresh, he cannot be dismissed lightly.
However, perhaps the key to this year's result is the ground.
While Bristol De Mai is versatile, his very best performances have come in the mud, and conditions look like being slightly drier than is often the case this weekend.
The progressive Lostintranslation could have a gear that his marginally older rival does not - and on a decent surface that might just prove crucial.
Top class throughout his novice season, Colin Tizzard's charge showed what he can really do when stepped up to three miles for the first time at Aintree in the spring.
It was then impossible to be anything but impressed by his comeback run at Carlisle recently. The opposition might not have been of the same calibre as he meets at Haydock, but his jumping was faultless - and he won with any amount in hand.
Official ratings tell you Lostintranslation has 9lb to find with Bristol De Mai, but he is a rising force in the division and very much unexposed at the trip, so there is every chance he can bridge that gap.
The main supporting race on the card is the £100,000 Betfair Best Odds On ITV Races Stayers' Handicap Hurdle.
The vote in what is always a fiercely competitive affair goes to Highland Hunter.
The grey has been lethal three times on heavy ground, so it is no surprise he has been targeted at a race which is often run in deep conditions. Even if that is not to be the case this time, though, there is much to like about Highland Hunter's chances.
He has been unstoppable after a break to date, so it is an advantage that he arrives fresh again.
Previous trainer Lucinda Russell handled his career skilfully for three wins in six starts under rules - but it can never be a negative that he is housed these days with 11-time champion Paul Nicholls.
Highland Hunter twice ran with credit in defeat over course and distance last season - and the suspicion is that his master trainer, who has booked former stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, senses there is a big handicap to be won off his current mark.
Despite the quality action further north, for many the race of the day is the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot - which throws up a mouthwatering clash between Altior and Cyrname.
Altior needs no introduction - because having won each of his 19 starts over jumps, his superstar status is very much locked in.
That said, the official handicapper rates Cyrname 1lb better with an official rating of 176 following two demolition jobs over course and distance this year.
Each will have supporters, and who is fitter for the seasonal debut is clearly important. But Henderson has been waxing lyrical about Altior's recent home work - and given he always seems to find a way to win, he is preferred.
If The Cap Fits can land the Coral Ascot Hurdle for the second season in succession.
Harry Fry's charge won this Grade Two 12 months ago before going on to finish third in the Christmas Hurdle, second in the National Spirit Hurdle and win the Stayers Hurdle at Aintree.
He is clearly versatile over a variety of trips, but it could be that around two and a half miles is spot on.
The Bombardier Golden Beer Conditions Stakes at Lingfield represents a good opportunity for So Beloved to get back on the winning trail.
It has been a long time between drinks for David O'Meara's veteran, who has not managed to get his head in front since claiming a Listed prize at Haydock in May 2016.
However, he has run some good races in defeat this year - most recently finishing second in a handicap here a week ago - and his official rating of 97 gives him every chance in this event.
Sporting Life tips
ASCOT: 12.20 Redford Road, 12.55 Highest Sun, 1.30 Same Circus, 2.05 Altior, 2.40 If The Cap Fits, 3.20 Knocknanuss, 3.50 Bravemansgame.
GOWRAN PARK: 11.50 Dinard Rose, 12.25 Easywork, 1.00 Franco De Port, 1.35 Robin Gold, 2.10 Getabird, 2.45 Laurina, 3.15 Never Off Duty.
HAYDOCK: 12.05 Calva D'Auge, 12.40 Burtons Well, 1.15 Midnight Shadow, 1.50 Irish Roe, 2.25 Highland Hunter, 3.00 LOSTINTRANSLATION (NAP), 3.40 Late Romantic.
HUNTINGDON: 11.55 Adjourned, 12.30 Evander, 1.05 Haafapiece, 1.40, Queen's Magic, 2.15 Jaboticaba, 2.50 North Star Oscar, 3.25 Faivoir.
LINGFIELD: 12.10 Saikung, 12.45 Rains Of Castamere, 1.20 Papa Delta, 1.55 So Beloved, 2.30 Risk Taker, 3.05 Doc Sportello, 3.35 Shifting Gold.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 4.10 Krazy Paving, 4.40 Belisa, 5.10 Awsaaf, 5.40 Khaloosy, 6.10 Danny Ocean, 6.40 Indomeneo, 7.10 Born To Reason, 7.40 Bay Of Naples.
DOUBLE: Lostintranslation and Altior.