13:15 Galway

Diol Ker my NAP at 7-4

It’s been a long time between drinks since DIOL KER (NAP) (best price 7-4) bolted up in maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last season but providing everything is in full working order, this potentially top-class son of Martaline can go close to taking this beginners’ chase before going onto much better things as the season progresses.

Looking back those he beat that day last November, virtually all of the field in behind him managed to score at higher level throughout the rest of the season – Monkfish’s win in the Albert Bartlett the highlight – so it was a shame we never got a chance to see what Noel Meade’s gelding himself could do in some of the championship races in the second half of the campaign. Entered up in several races at the festival, he failed to make any of the line-ups presumably to injury, but that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as he arrives in his first full season over fences fresh and raring to go. A former point winner and every inch a chaser in the making, the six-year-old will hopefully be contesting some of the better novice chases later in the campaign, providing, of course, he comes through today’s examination with flying colours.

Diol Ker - 2pts @ 7/4

13:57 Aintree

Back Beacon Edge at 7-1

As ever, a competitive field assembled for the first recognised big chase of the season and despite the obvious claims of Itchy Feet, OLDGRANGEWOOD (best price 7-1) makes the most appeal of the solid each-way alternatives. Representing a team in fine form at the moment, Dan Skelton’s gelding by and large tends to run his race and with most of his better efforts coming at today’s venue, he should give supporters a fair roll of the dice. Yet to finish out of the frame in five of his six completed starts at the Merseyside track, his best effort came when a creditable third to Riders Onthe Storm in a similar race to today’s on his first outing last season and with him going on to even greater heights later in the campaign, with two wins and a fourth at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s plain to see he is still going the right way despite him nudging towards double digits’ age-wise.

Oldgrangewood - 1pt e/w @ 7/1

15:00 Galway

Back Beacon Edge at 13-8

Only four runners for this Grade 3 but a tricky one to solve all the same. However, BEACON EDGE (best price 13-8) does hold s significant advantage being the only one of the big three in the betting to have had a previous outing so that may just tip the balance of power in his favour on this occasion.

A smart novice last season, the son of Doyen has picked up the baton and carried on where he left off judged on his opening victory at Down Royal 16 days ago, making short work of five opponents in a race which was his for the taking. Although he’s going to have to raise his game to another level to see off the likes of Minella Melody and Grand Roi – who are both smart – his ability to stay well, act on heavy ground and handle an undulating track makes him the one to beat here this afternoon.

Beacon Edge - 1pt @ 13-8

15:42 Aintree

Back Strong Glance at 6-1 & Jacamar at 10-1

STRONG GLANCE (best price 6-1) shaped with an immense amount of promise on his seasonal reappearance in a hot handicap at Market Rasen and with today’s step up in trip likely to see him in an even better light, Olly Murphy’s gelding can take a high rank and reward each-way support.

Lightly-raced, the son of Passing Glance has always displayed a touch of quality when on-song, none more so with his victory at the same Lincolnshire venue last January when he brushed aside a competitive field in a strong time. Always likely to find two miles on the sharp side, he did really well to come from so far back on his return visit 29 days ago and with improvement likely to be forthcoming given that was his first outing for the thick end of six months, the seven-year-old will hopefully prove good enough to play a key role in the final outcome.

Of the rest JACAMAR (best price 10-1) seems another likely to go well given his suitability to today’s conditions and the bottom weight is also worth a small each-way interest. Unlucky twice this season, firstly when forced off the track when going well at Newton Abbot and secondly, when whipping around at the start at Fontwell last time and losing upwards of 10 lengths to his main market rivals. To end up fighting out the finish at the Sussex venue, therefore, represent a fair effort by Milton Harris’ gelding and with the time figure and subsequent form of those involved in the final outcome (Up The Straight third at Cheltenham on Friday) all solid, a big effort looks on the cards.

Strong Glance - 1pt e/w @ 6/1
Jacamar - 0.5pts e/w @ 10/1