Veteran Vic can stamp his class
Despite being in the twilight of his career at 12 years of age, Our Vic warrants support in the day's feature at Newbury, the Raymond Mould Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup.
Twice a winner already this season, David Pipe's stalwart will have to account for a number of horses that could still be in the ascent if he is to collect, but there are enough doubts surrounding those to side with a horse with the proven class of Our Vic.
Can't Buy Time and Pasco will head the market. The former, sporting the JP McManus silks, fully deserves his place at the forefront of the betting.
He comes here on the back of a win that saw him beat last week's big-race winner Razor Royale into fourth at Cheltenham, but he has gone up five pounds for that and is short at 9/4.
There are more negatives about Pasco. Beaten into second off 139 in his last handicap, Ruby Walsh's mount was then well held in a conditions race at Exeter. On that occasion, off level weights, he finished a length and a quarter behind second horse Or Bleu, which has been beaten three times since, latterly when second off 131.
With that in mind, notwithstanding Pasco's scope for improvement at seven, his current rating of 145 looks grossly inflated. The second Paul Nicholls runner, Big Fella Thanks, is a slightly more appealing option at a general 5/1, but the two-and-a-half-mile trip may be on the short side for him, while it will be in Our Vic's favour.
Although he has to concede seven pounds and more, the son of Old Vic has been in excellent form, winning a handicap on his penultimate start off 152. Last time, he ran well to be second off 158 over three and a half miles. That kind of dour test has never been ideal for Our Vic, and he had everything well stretched a mile from home.
Reverting back to today's trip, then, and dropped a pound in the ratings, he is expected to show his younger rivals a clean pair of heels. One of the few to have ever beaten Kauto Star, Old Vic's current mark still compares favourably with the 171 he hit in his prime and 6/1 is too good to pass up.
The JP McManus-owned Wheels Up, second on his last three runs, but without a win in 14 starts since he landed a maiden hurdle at Clonmel two years ago, will be another popular McCoy booking in the second-last race. This one can also be opposed.
The two-and-a-quarter-mile contest features an array of other unconvincing animals, but one that might be worth a speculative venture is Lordsbridge. Second on his seasonal debut over hurdles, the Andy Turnell-trained eight-year-old failed to land a blow when tackling fences for the first time at Newbury in November.
However, that race has since thrown up a number of winners and Lordsbridge progressed to finish second at Ascot in January. On his latest start at Sandown, he again had designs on a place before unseating two-out in a race that reads particularly well now. A consistent type, Lordsbridge appeals for the win market.
Eric's Charm is also put forward on the basis of reliability in the veterans' race earlier on the card. Barry Geraghty takes the reins on Trabolgan in this, but that injury-plagued former Hennessy-winner couldn't be backed with any confidence.
Eric's Charm, on the other hand, always runs well at Sandown, a track at which he has won twice and placed five times in eight starts. He is burdened with an eight-pound penalty for scoring here last December, but that may not be enough to stop him on his first outing since then under McCoy.
Further north at Doncaster, Merigo gets the nod to collect off a light weight in the Sportingbet.com Grimthorpe Chase. Andrew Parker's stayer advertised his well-being by finishing second over hurdles in February -- though he was later disqualified -- and the return to fences is expected to make the difference now.
Best bet: Merigo