12:15 Doncaster

The Brian Ellison-trained TUPELO MISSISSIPPI (best price 11-2) was admittedly below-par at Newcastle in first-time cheekpieces last time out but that is the only time he hasn’t been at his best given how consistent he’d been beforehand and, with the combination of the ease in grade and drop back in trip sure to suit, the top-weight should easily be capable of going well in the opener. 

His hurdles form is also reliable and the best on offer, notably his third in a Grade Two at Haydock, where he had subsequent winner Mint Condition back in fourth, who’s rated 138 over fences. He could only finish runner-up in a match-race when sent off 1/5 favourite on chase debut but he wasn’t disgraced and it was an indication that this mark is surely within his compass given the winner - Hardy Du Seuil - was getting a lot of weight and has won and finished second in a Grade Two subsequently to advertise the strength of the form, too. Brian Hughes maintains the partnership which is a positive note in his claim and with most of his rivals here, who tend to operate at a lower standard, needing more improvement, the seven-year-old has the potential to be ahead of the assessor and therefore should be in the mix in what is his easiest test for quite a while with his trainer in great form, who’s had three winners from his last six runners. 

Tupelo Mississippi - 0.5pts e/w @ 11/2

14:00 Meydan

It was great to pick up two big-priced winners at Meydan two weeks ago and I have three picks for today’s meeting. Firstly, the exciting DURANDAL (best price 7-1). who powered away to record an impressive course-and-distance victory earlier this month. He looked very professional and special throughout that event, where he was always travelling well before quickening away from a decent field to win by over four-lengths without his rider asking for maximum effort. This is a slightly warmer event but he’s the only runner in the field to have won at this venue and, with improvement on the cards, the five-year-old can potentially deliver the knockout punch in the opener with race-fitness on his side, too. 

Durandal - 0.5pts e/w @ 7/1

15:00 Doncaster

The hat-trick seeking Ace Time is thriving of late and he’s a leading contender in this weak contest but TOMMASO (best price 7-1) has been given a fair opening mark with more to come and should be able to make his presence felt in this company. Phil Kirby’s four-year-old is useful on the flat and has made the transition to hurdling with two seconds in juvenile events. He couldn’t make any inroads on an impressive winner three weeks ago but he kept on nicely to get past the 113-rated Keyfast Warrior and, now dropped into this grade for the first time with the faster ground to suit, this gelding should be competitive in this race.
Tommaso - 0.5pts e/w @ 7/1

15:10 Huntingdon

This is a wide open qualifier and, although he has quite a lot to prove at present, I cannot help but feel DANNY WHIZZBANG (best price 22-1) is worth a go back hurdling off an attractive mark for Milton Harris. This one-time promising chaser for Paul Nicholls sadly after winning a Grade Two on chase debut but he’s been highly-tried ever since and is back hurdling off a career-low mark with no weight on his back, either, under Harry Reed. He’s actually two-from-two in this sphere and three-from-five under these conditions so in hope that a return to this discipline has a positive effect, the nine-year-old could be a lively player at a big price.
Danny Whizzbang - 0.5pts e/w @ 22/1

18:05 Meydan

A tricky sprint contest to conclude the card and I have two suggestions, who appeal most and can therefore make their presence felt in the finale with plenty in their favour and four places widely on offer. 

We were on MUTARAFFA (best price 8-1) when he won convincingly here two weeks ago and I am quite surprised to see him available at quite a large price this time round as I thought he’d be favourite for this considering he’s already beaten the majority of these before. He’s held in high-regard by connections and was doing all of his best work in the closing stages last-time-out having hit the front soon enough so he should, in theory, have no problem returning to this longer trip, which could signal even further improvement having won over this distance on his penultimate outing. That latest victory was undoubtedly a career-best performance and, with more to offer, he has every chance of completing the hat-trick. 

The other one I like is MOTAFAAWIT (best price 15-2) who should get a strong pace to aim at as his off-the-pace style of running has often seen him finish his events very strongly. He’s ran some big races at this track, including an unlucky head-second in a Group Three alongside a good fifth in a Group One last season when not getting the rub of the green throughout the race. He reappeared with an eye-catching third behind Mutaraffa over five-furlongs two weeks ago and is three-pounds better off with that rival here. Dane O’Neill keeps the partnership intact and, in the hope that everything falls right for him, the chance is taken on him to produce his power-packed late surge which should, at the very least, see him on the scene in the latter stages.

Mutaraffa - 0.5pts e/w @ 8/1
Motafaawit - 0.5pts e/w @ 8/1