12:55 Fairyhouse

LORD LARIAT (best price 6/1) must have delighted his set of connections on his seasonal bow despite getting beaten the guts of 15 lengths and with that all-important run under his belt, Dermot McLoughlin’s gelding can copy and paste his finest hour back here in April.

A rapid improver over fences last year, the culmination of all his gains came when he beat a stellar field in the Irish Grand National over today’s course and even though many would consider his 40-1 shock win a fluke, the way he won and the numbers he posted suggested otherwise. 

Returning to the fray following a 177-day break at Punchestown recently, the son of Golden Lariat probably did about as well as expected up against the likes of Galvin and Run Wild Fred on his first attempt in Graded company, but now back at a more realistic level, he is likely to go well revisiting a venue where he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past.  

Lord Lariat - 0.5pts e/w @ 6/1

13:45 Huntingdon

The drop back in trip ultimately counted against ART OF ILLUSION (best price 11/4) at Lingfield last time out, but now reverting back to a more suitable three miles, Warren Greatrex’s gelding can resume winning ways.

Successful in his first start over fences at Plumpton, the son of Malinas was asked to race over five furlongs less on his next outing at the Surrey venue and although he came out of the race of great credit, he just didn’t have the basic speed of two horses stepping up from the minimum trip. That said, the speed figure of the race indicated he was operating at a fair level for the grade and with the winner, and fifth both winning since, the form has worked out as well as the numbers suggested they might. 

Operating on to tweak his wind since, the five-year-old looks back at the sort of level where he should be ruffling a few feathers.

Art Of Illusion - 1pt @ 11/4

13:55 Fairyhouse

A Grade 1 novice chase fit to grace any big meeting, this year’s Drinmore epitomises the different between racing either side of the Irish Sea in a nutshell. On what we’ve seen so far this season, Banbridge sets a clear standard based on his victory at Cheltenham last time out and it would come as no surprise if he were to follow in the footsteps of Fakir D’Oudairies, who landed this prize three years ago for Joseph O’Brien.

However, he has been priced up accordingly, so for those looking for an each-way alternative, GAILLARD DU MESNIL (best price 13/2) rates the percentage call at the morning odds. 

A top-class novice hurdler over 2m4f, William Mullins’ inmate was fully expected to make a similar impact over fences last season and although he performed with great credit in all five starts, he somehow came out of the campaign winless. Third in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory to one of this season’s big Gold Cup hopes, L’Homme Presse, the six-year-old grey went on to fill out the same position in the Irish Grand National over today’s course on his final start of the campaign, proving that he also stays beyond his optimum trip just as well. 

On the evidence of those two efforts, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the son of Saint Des Saints begins his season over 2m4f, but the fact Paul Townend has chosen him over the likes of Adamant Approach, El Barra, and Authorized Art – all three better suited by today’s intermediate trip – suggests his mount has been showing up prominently at home.

Gaillard Du Mesnil - 0.5pts e/w @ 13/2