13.50 Lingfield 

A competitive small-field affair but given the Skelton’s are in flying form, who combined to land a hat-trick of victories at Ascot yesterday, the vote is in favour of FAIVOIR (best price 5-2).

The seven-year-old, by Coastal Path, was much inferior to this field over hurdles, who’s winning mentality status saw him win five of his eight starts in that sphere, including a Grade Two on heavy ground at Haydock. The form of that race has worked out strongly, as the runner-up, Minella Drama, went onto finish second in a Grade 1 at Aintree and matched that form by winning a Grade Two chase event yesterday back at Haydock. 

Dan Skelton’s charge has also improved for a set of fences, winning two of his four starts before running a good race to finish second in a Grade Two when last sighted. He couldn’t lay a glove on the high-class Pic d'Orhy in a Grade Two that day, but his habitual case of jumping to the left didn’t help him make any sort of inroads on the eventual winner, so the return to a left-handed course will certainly suit him better. 

He’s achieved a lot better form under conditions described as heavy than the remainder of this field and boasts an ultra-impressive career strike-rate of nine wins from fifteen starts. War Lord only found one too good in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase and is clearly showing signs that he’s a much better chaser than a hurdler but given the former is sure to relish conditions and his stable is in red-hot form, he has an excellent chance here. 

Faivoir - 1pt @ 5/2

14:50 Warwick

A rare short-price selection on my behalf and, although he hasn’t really convinced in the jumping department so far, GOOD RISK AT ALL (best price 9-4) has shown more than enough to suggest he’s more than capable of winning a race of this nature for Sam Thomas. 

His opening mark of 124 is potentially a good one given his smart form in bumpers, where he completed a set of victories in listed events at Cheltenham and Newbury. He improved markedly on his hurdles debut when second to chase home Jonbon at Newbury, who won a Grade Two yesterday to advertise the strength of the form. His jumping will need to improve again here tackling another chunk of useful youngsters but he’s got scope and potential to surpass this mark and, with improvement on the cards, this six-year-old is taken to come good at the third time of asking in this sphere. 

Good Risk At All - 1pt @ 9/4

15.00 Lingfield 

It might only be a class-two event, but the Fleur De Lys Chase is littered with high-quality candidates, with no fewer than three Grade 1 winners to spice things up further. The mud-loving grey and three-time Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai was unable to land the race that made him famous for a fourth time when last spotted and it was unlike him to run so poorly at his beloved venue, while his two latest performances have indicated that he might be on the decline. 

No doubt though, the eleven-year-old is sure to prove popular and should fare a lot better in calmer waters but with two non-completions next to his name and the fact that he hasn’t compete over a trip shorter than three-miles for a long time, he might have to settle for minor honours behind the battle-hardened DASHEL DRASHER (best price 13-8) who is at the peak of his powers and can maintain his heavy-ground unbeaten record. 

The nine-year-old is a high-quality front-runner, who took his form to another level last season, which included three consecutive wins, with the last of those coming in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase. He was only third on his reappearance back there but that was on good ground and he utilised that pipe-opener to defy top-weight in a handicap hurdle at Newbury over the Christmas period. His trainer Jeremy Scott planned on using that as a stepping stone towards today’s contest so we can expect him to strip even fitter here. 

This 2m6f distance is a bit longer than he is used to, but his sole run over this distance saw him finish a three-length second to Champ at Newbury on chase debut. This is a really hot race, don’t get me wrong, but this admirable trailblazer has proved to be pretty much unbeatable under these conditions and he should launch another bold bid from the front. 

Dashel Drasher  - 1pt @ 13/8

15.35 Lingfield  

I have two strong each-way suggestions in the racehorselotto.com Surrey National Handicap Chase, compete over 3m4f on heavy ground, and will require a horse with bottomless stamina to take the spoils. 

JUST YOUR TYPE (best price 8-1) is prone to making costly mistakes but he’s a stout stayer, who will relish conditions, and has a really sound chance with a clear round being three-pounds lower than when last successful. The ten-year-old has reserved his best for these conditions and it’s interesting that connections bypassed this year’s renewal of the Peter Marsh yesterday in favour of this easier task, especially given he’d finished third in that race at Haydock last year off a mark of 132. He was pulled up on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham but has acquitted himself well in two subsequent starts, including when fourth in the Tommy Whittle last-time-out. 

He may have even finished third without blundering the final fence and this race presents a drop in class with Will Kennedy remaining in the saddle. I think his jumping will be much better on return to these easier obstacles at this venue and his sole visit here previously saw him finish second to Sam Brown, who ran a blinder behind Royale Pagaille yesterday. He’s down to a career-low chasing mark and therefore should be extremely competitive in this marathon contest if keeping the errors tucked away with four places widely available. 

Trainer Ben Clarke has aimed THE GALLOPING BEAR (best price 17-2) at this race for a while, who bypassed the Welsh National with him due to a dirty scope and can put in a bold display with conditions and the step up in trip in his favour. 

This triple point-to-point winner on soft/heavy ground is unbeaten in two starts over these regulation fences on soft-ground and he was running a belter over hurdles on his return at Chepstow until falling three out. He looked to be going best and just about got upsides eventual winner Ask Me Early until his departure and that form has a nice look to it, as the winner was favourite for the Welsh National until pulled out due to a setback. He’s completely unexposed in this sphere and everything points to him being suited to this extra emphasis on stamina. It won’t be easy carrying top-weight under bottomless conditions over this extreme distance but connections seem to have no fear on that score and he could be primed to produce a good performance here with up to four places widely on offer. 

Just Your Type  - 0.5pts e/w @ 8/1
The Galloping Bear - 0.5pts e/w @ 17/2

16.08 Lingfield

SHEARER (best price 3-1) was turned over by a narrow margin on hurdles debut but built on that when third behind a subsequent winner at Newbury last month and looks more than ready to open his account on handicap debut in a race lacking any sort of strength in depth. 

This good-looking six-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, was highly-tried in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival last team, finishing a solid tenth and has already proved he can handle soft/heavy ground having romped to a nine-length success at Warwick on his second-career start. I think he brings the strongest form-lines into the contest based upon his latest third, where he travelled strongly, but couldn’t go with the eventual first and second. With much more to come and, the slight reduction in distance sure to help, this formerly smart bumper performer gets the nod.

Shearer  - 1pt @ 3/1