Fancies at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Newbury for our tipster including Sykes in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Prestbury Park.
CHELTENHAM stages some excellent jumps action on Saturday when the front-running SYKES is fancied to run his usual bold race in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
The ten-year-old was collared close home by The Mighty Don in this race last year and then went one better at Haydock before being outclassed in a Grade One at Aintree on his final start.
Good when fresh, and a solid second on one of two other previous visits to Cheltenham, he looks over-priced and a solid each-way bet on his course form despite being worse off with last year's fourth Theclockisticking.
However, the latter has been running poorly over fences more recently and it remains to be seen if a wind operation will prompt a return to form.
There are plenty of others who are potential improvers and possibly well-in at the weights but Sykes, a particularly fluent jumper, could well boss them from the front.
At Newbury, testing ground conditions are likely to turn the Teddington RBL Poppy Appeal (St Simon) Stakes (1m4f) into a slog and, while up against it on official ratings, this could be what MANUELA DE VEGA has been needing all season.
Ralph Beckett's filly won both her starts as a two-year-old (including on good to soft) but has run consistently in 2019 without getting her head in front, often looking short of toe at crucial moments.
She looked a little unlucky in running first time out when not getting the best of runs behind the high class Mehdaayih in the Cheshire Oaks, again on good to soft ground, in May and has since run on quicker surfaces finishing fourth in the Oaks (staying on), fifth in the Irish Oaks and placed subsequently behind Enbihaar, Sir Ron Priestley and Sextant including over a mile-and-three-quarters.
Clearly, Manuela De Vega looks like seeing out every inch of the trip here and, receiving weight all round and a full 12lb from the penalised older pair Morando and Royal Line, she could be worth taking a chance with especially as Beckett's runners are in flying form.
Up at Doncaster, SAAHEQ looks value in the Vertem Very Different Stockbrokers Handicap having won impressively at Southwell on his latest start.
Mick Appleby's five-year-old has performed well for much of the season winning at Chelmsford and Musselburgh in the spring and his 4lb weight rise for that latest success is offset by the good value 7lb allowance claimed by the promising apprentice Angus Villiers.
Saaheq ran well over the course and distance (soft) in August going down by a length and a half to Orvar and, while only a pound better off now on ratings, the extra 7lb off could more than turn things around.
- Preview posted at 1500 BST on 25/10/19