Philip Hobbs can receive a nice pre-Cheltenham boost by saddling Ballygarvey to victory in the race of the day at Newbury.
The Minehead handler is double-handed in the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase, with Royal Regatta quite popular in the build-up to the race.
But Ballygarvey and jockey Tom O’Brien are fancied to come out on top in the Grade Three over two and a half miles.
The nine-year-old has rather gone unnoticed, but his form over fences is really good and this is the right time of the year to catch him.
Ballygarvey looked the real deal with back-to-back victories last February, and created a similarly effusive impression when victorious on his seasonal debut at Ascot in December.
Hobbs’ representative jumped accurately in a two-mile-one-furlong handicap chase and had plenty remaining to keep Ulck Du Lin at bay by four lengths.
That was no mean feat given he had been out of action since November 2013. It also tended to suggest that a return to this sort of trip will be just the ticket.
Things did not go to plan on New Year’s Eve, though, as Ballygarvey could only finish fourth behind Brick Red in a two-mile handicap at Sandown. There may have been excuses, however, as he had a tough race at Ascot and could well have been a casualty of the dreaded ‘bounce’ factor.
Having been given plenty of time to recover from those exertions, racegoers in Berkshire can expect a much sharper Ballygarvey. Any further rainfall will also be most welcome.
Trustan Times has hardly thrived over fences, but he might just have enough about him to claim a good prize at Doncaster.
Tim Easterby’s stayer has only won once from nine outings since he was sent chasing, with even those closest to him unlikely to argue he needs to brush up in the jumping department. That said, there have been distinct signs of promise - not least when he stayed on stoutly to take third place in the Scottish Grand National last April.
Though his form this term has been chequered at best, Trustan Times again offered a little bit of encouragement at Haydock a few weeks ago when he was a fair fifth in the Grand National Trial.
This looks easier than that Grade Three, while he remains teasingly weighted if his best form over hurdles is factored into the equation. The ground on Town Moor should also be perfect for him as he goes for glory in the BetBright Grimthorpe Chase.