13:30 Newbury

CHESSPIECE (best price 8-1) might be seen to better effect over further than today’s trip later in the season but this contest still represents a perfect platform from which the son of Nathaniel can build and he is taken to feature prominently on his opening bow. 

Deemed good enough to take his chance in last season’s St Leger, Simon & Ed Crisford’s gelding ultimately didn’t quite stay the trip under testing conditions on Town Moor, but he is better judged on his final outing of the campaign when just coming out second best of a protracted dual with the smart Middle Earth at Ascot on better ground. 

Posting a smart speed figure at the Berkshire venue, the four-year-old was nicely clear of some useful stayers on that occasion and providing he is somewhere near the same level on his return to action after a 197-day break, he can reward each-way support. 

Chesspiece - 0.5pts e/w @ 8/1

13:50 Ayr

MARBLE SANDS (best price 9-1), other than failing to meant up with the standards required for Grade 1 level at Kempton over Christmas, has enjoyed a fruitful campaign on his first season over fences and based on the theory that connections have probably had this race in mind for the son of Martaline, he rates a strong choice to execute the plan. 

Off the mark on his first try over fences over today’s course back in November, he clocked the sort of time to suggest he would be a potent force in his new discipline and he went a long way to back up that view at Musselburgh two starts ago. 

In a keenly contested handicap, the eight-year-old grey impressed with the way he stayed on in the closing stages of a strongly run affair and it came as no surprise to find the speed figure he posted was once again extremely solid. 

On the evidence of that display, he shapes as though a try over further should suit and with his recent effort on the all-weather at Southwell used as his final preparations for today’s race, a bold bid looks on the cards.

Marble Sands - 1pt e/w @ 9/1

14:25 Ayr

FAVOUR AND FORTUNE (best price 11-2) ran a remarkable race in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle considering his jumping was less fluent than usual and with the drying ground finally providing him with the perfect opportunity to show what a decent horse he can be when everything clicks into place, Alan King’s inmate is fancied to round off his season in style. 

Fancied to run better than his odds suggested in many quarters in the festival curtain raiser, a bad mistake at the first soon put him on the back foot and with errors at the second and fourth going a long way to add further nails in his coffin, to end up finishing a creditable sixth was somewhat of a miracle. 

Keeping on well from two out, he left the distinct impression he would have finished in the frame but for those misgivings and with the form of the race boosted by the second and third at Aintree last week, the seven-year-old could turn out to be extremely well treated off 138 in his first try in handicap company. 

Favour And Fortune - 1pt e/w @ 11/2

14:45 Curragh

INDEPENDENT EXPERT (best price 12-1) made a bright start to the new season with a notable success at Cork and with both fitness on his side and ability to handle testing conditions seen as massive positives, it wouldn’t be a totally shock if Andrew Slattery’s mare were to go in again. 

Unlucky on her final start of the campaign last season, the daughter of Gutaifan had to wait a long time to make amends (152 days) and after travelling well in behind the speed at the Mallow track, her connections’ patience were handsomely rewarded. The way she quickened up in the bad ground on her way to posting a career high figure was one of an improving horse and having also proven herself over today’s venue in the past, everything adds up for her to play a pivotal role. 

Independent Expert - 0.5pts e/w @ 12/1

15:15 Newbury

THUNDER BALL (best price 8-1) fared best of those who raced up with the speed in the Lincoln at Doncaster on his seasonal bow and now heading back in the direction of one of his career high performances, Oliver & Paul Cole’s gelding can continue his stable’s excellent start to the new campaign. 
Still travelling well with two furlongs to run on Town Moor, it was from this point the four-year-old began to flag but he still managed to plug on to finish a creditable seventh and at the very least, that effort should see him strip fitter for this contest.

Moreover, one of his better performances both visually and on the clock came here last season and on today’s better ground, he could be hard to kick out of the frame.

Thunder Ball - 1pt e/w @ 8/1

15:35 Ayr

GIT MAKER (best price 6-1) was the only horse to offer any resistance to easy winner Inothewayurthinkin in the Kim Muir last time out and with his conqueror going on to prove the value of the form at Grade 1 level last week, Jamie Snowden’s gelding can cap not only his season with a win, but add to his handler’s fine tally too. 

Since joining the chasing ranks last season, the eight-year-old has only disappointed once in seven starts and if you take out the impressive winner at Cheltenham a month ago, he would have accounted for a big field of solid handicappers with loads to spare. 

Proving he’s a strong stayer at 3m2f that day – hitting the line really well – the son of Saddler Maker looks to have done well to come out that encounter on the same mark and with only three runs under his belt this campaign, his relative freshness could prove to be vital in the finish analysis. 
 

Git Maker - 1pt e/w @ 6/1