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Rileyev looks value for Williams team

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Wayne Hutchinson manages to stay aboard odds-on favourite Lidar during the novice chase at Doncaster yesterday

Wayne Hutchinson manages to stay aboard odds-on favourite Lidar during the novice chase at Doncaster yesterday

Wayne Hutchinson manages to stay aboard odds-on favourite Lidar during the novice chase at Doncaster yesterday

Aerial spearheads Paul Nicholls' three-pronged assault on the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury today -- a race that the Ditcheat handler has won four times since 2006.

Due to be ridden by Ruby Walsh, the six-year-old hacked up at Ascot in December, but subsequently looked far more limited off a 12lb higher mark when fourth to The Giant Bolster at Cheltenham in January.

The handicapper has allowed him a few pounds for that, but others still appeal more, one of which is his stablemate Pasco.

Wexford native Daryl Jacob takes the reins on this striking grey, a nine-year-old that hasn't won for three years.

Nonetheless, with three of his four English wins coming at the Berkshire venue, Pasco is better here than anywhere else, and he hasn't run without encouragement on his two starts this term.

Fourth here to Time For Rupert in December over a three-mile trip that was a stretch too far, he was then held in third on soft ground at Wincanton.

Today's two-and-a-half-mile journey on good going will suit ideally, with a mark of 140, 5lb lower than when second to Big Fella Thanks in this in 2010, his lowest since 2009.

At odds of up to 8/1, Pasco is a solid each-way option, but just preferred for the win at as big as 16/1 is Venetia Williams' Rileyev.

Williams' horses have been in excellent heart lately, and this fellow has plenty going for him, given his inflated price.

The sort that likes to come from off the pace, Rileyev won for a sixth time over fences here on his fourth outing in four weeks in November. Beaten a head at Cheltenham a month later, he has since struggled to make an impression over two miles, latterly being flat out from the start before finishing fourth at Chepstow just a week ago.

Stepping up to this afternoon's distance will give Rileyev an opportunity to travel again under Aidan Coleman, and that could prove vital.

While the seven-year-old is 3lb out of the handicap proper, his fine turn of foot from off the pace under 10st can prove too hot for his 12 rivals to handle.

Walsh and Nicholls are fancied to take the preceding veterans' race with Niche Market.

The Hennessy Gold Cup fourth Fair Along is an obvious contender in this, but tends to run best these days when passing horses off a strong gallop.

He wouldn't be guaranteed that sort of breakneck speed in a chase of this nature, and Niche Market is a more straightforward sort that has plenty in his favour.

An excellent fifth in the Grand National in April, the 11-year-old son of Presenting finished second in unsuitably heavy going in the Becher Chase back at Aintree in December.

The handicapper has dropped Niche Market 4lb for that to a mark of 142, his lowest rating since landing the Irish National at Fairyhouse in 2009. Over three-and-a-quarter miles at a venue where he never runs a bad race, he should have a big say.

partnership

In the opening handicap hurdle, Kieran Burke and Barry Geraghty, who scored with Hunt Ball at Kempton last week, might be the partnership to keep on-side.

The duo's representative here is Buck Magic, a 2010 Kilmallock point-to-point winner that claimed an English bumper and novice hurdle on its only other two starts that year.

On his return from a 15-month lay-off, Buck Magic caught the eye when third of 15 over two miles and six furlongs at Wincanton two weeks ago.

Stepping up to three miles now, he could prove hard to beat in what is a fairly competitive race.

At Doncaster, Emma Lavelle and Noel Fehily, another in-form duo, can collect with Kangaroo Court, their only runner on the card in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

This lightly-raced fast ground specialist, first and fifth on two recent all-weather spins, will appreciate going that has had to be watered on his first jumping start since June.

Best Bet: Kangaroo Court

Irish Independent