Having been as big as 8/1 a week ago, any value that was to be had about Prospect Wells for today's Ladbroke Hurdle is well gone.
Paul Nicholls' novice was a top-priced 7/2 for the Ascot feature yesterday evening, and has little appeal at those kind of odds in such a competitive handicap. Edged out by Steps To Freedom at Cheltenham in November, the six-year-old went on to oblige with the minimum of fuss at Newbury next time.
However, Prospect Wells beat nothing of significance that day. In the context of this afternoon's race, that stroll only confirmed his well-being, as facing up to 16 hardened handicappers off a first-time mark of 142 is an entirely different assignment.
Sailors Warn may be more prepared for the cut and thrust of the prestigious two-miler. With 10st 11lb, Edward O'Grady's four-year-old has 2lbs more to carry than the favourite, but is an attractive each-way choice at around 8/1.
When Prospect Wells went down to Steps To Freedom, he was in receipt of 3lbs, yet Sailors Warn conceded nine to Jessica Harrington's charge when running it to a length and a quarter at Punchestown in October. He subsequently lost nothing in defeat when asked to give 7lbs to Unaccompanied at Naas, where he was spring-heeled at the last before being outclassed on the run to the line.
With AP McCoy booked to steer, Sailors Warn should have a big say, but preferred for the win is Act Of Kalinisi. Trained by the up-and-coming Dr Richard Newland, this one dropped from Grade One company to defy a bad blunder two out when successful in a decent handicap over two and a half miles at Ascot in February.
He was making his handicap debut that day off 130 and didn't reappear until faced with a difficult task on his fifth hurdling start in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November. After Grandouet fell at the second-last, Act Of Kalinisi plugged on for third behind Celestial Halo, a run that should have left him spot on for this.
Today, he runs off 134, but that minor hike is readily negated by the booking of the 7lb claimer Brendan Powell, one of the game's rising stars. With a net weight of 9st 8lb to carry, Act Of Kalinisi is the value option at up to 16/1.
Nicholls and Walsh are expected to take the graduation chase with Aerial. On official figures, this five-year-old is well in with two of his five rivals, in particular, the useful novice Canni Thinkaar, which would be 20lbs better off in a handicap.
Of those that he is less favourably in with, Gilbarry, sporting first-time blinkers for AP McCoy and Jonjo O'Neill, should do better than he has done recently, but Aerial is a more progressive sort. Successful over fences in France at four, the Turgeon gelding scored in superb fashion on his debut for Nicholls at Wincanton back in February.
Beaten into second at Ascot next time, he underwent a wind operation in the summer and hinted that there would be plenty more to come when fourth behind Great Endeavour, Quantitativeeasing and Divers in the Paddy Power on his reappearance. This should pose a far less strenuous examination of his capabilities.
In the day's Grade One, the Long Walk Hurdle, the odds-on Big Buck's is unopposable as he bids for a 14th win on the spin. However, evens could be had about Dynaste in the 'betting without' market last night, and that is a fair alternative.
At Haydock, Wymott can build on his Hennessy Gold Cup sixth. The seven-year-old kept on after blowing up on his first run of the season at Newbury, so he will take plenty beating off the same mark in the Tommy Whittle Chase for Jason Maguire.
Best Bet: Aerial