Summery justice gets the verdict at Newbury
A three-and-a-quarter-mile veterans' handicap chase at Newbury is an unlikely source of betting inspiration, but the proximity of Cheltenham means that quality is pretty scarce today.
While Paul Carberry is reunited with his Welsh National-winning partner Monbeg Dude in the Grimthorpe Chase over the same protracted trip at Doncaster, that is a handicap that simply doesn't appeal.
The Barbury International-sponsored equivalent in Berkshire does for a variety of reasons.
Top-weight Carruthers will doubtless be popular having run admirably to be second in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January.
In a way, the handicapper has given the Mark Bradstock-trained 11-year-old a bit of a chance by leaving him unchanged off a mark of 150, but Mattie Bachelor's former Hennessy Gold Cup-winning mount was ultimately well beaten at Warwick.
Moreover, he has never won off a rating as high as this, so you'd have to doubt his capacity to do so now, notwithstanding that a race of this nature can throw up such anomalies.
Pete The Feat commands some interest, having dropped 2lb to 141 for a lacklustre Sandown turn.
He was placed in a decent race at Haydock off 139 previously. However, the handicapper probably has a good hold of him after some decent performances and his run last time is a concern.
The one that stands out as serious win material is Summery Justice, which represents Venetia Williams' rejuvenated Herefordshire stable. Crucially, the Witness Box 10-year-old has tumbled in the weights from a high of 136 to 128, a mark that he looks well capable of exploiting.
Pulled up in a good race behind Night Alliance on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot, he progressed to be a close third to Railway Dillon off 127 over this sort of trip at Bangor.
Second on that occasion was the unexposed six-year-old Present View, which had won by five lengths the time before and then sauntered home by 10 lengths at Kempton last week.
Summery Justice also appeared at the Sunbury track earlier in the month, when he stayed on dourly over three miles to be fourth to Triangular.
That was cracking effort, and the second, Midnight Appeal, was beaten by less than three lengths when fourth in the big chase there last week.
All told, that is the best form on offer in this seven-runner affair, while the step back up to this extended trip on deep ground will suit Summery Justice to a nicety.
Under just 10st 4lb, then, odds of 9/2 are far too big about him adding to Williams' fantastic winning spree.
Paul Nicholls' Rebel Rebellion is also worth a look under top-weight in the Stanjames.com Greatwood Handicap Chase.
Revitalised by first-time cheek pieces at Aintree in December, he then didn't have the boot to cope with Grey Gold and Desert Cry when third over two miles at Sandown.
Ryan Mahon's mount steps back up to two-and-a-half miles now against less progressive opposition, with the application of blinkers for a first time is expected to prompt another bold bid.
At Doncaster, Gordon Elliott's Layla Joan gets the nod in the Listed mares' novice hurdle.
Layla Joan has plundered a point-to-point and three hurdles in a row, latterly disrupting the fine run of Stuart Crawford's smart Grade Two-winning gelding Fine Rightly at Ayr when conceding 3lb.
Fine Rightly has since hacked up again at Wetherby, so that is quite a endorsement.
Williams' classy Toubeera is another on a four-timer, having really impressed in a Haydock Grade Two under Aidan Coleman last month.
Still, she must give 5lbs to the Carberry-ridden selection now, despite being rated a pound inferior.
That won't be an easy thing to do.
Best Bet: Layla Joan
There are 14 Irish-trained horses declared for duty in England, Scotland and Dubai this afternoon. Mick Halford is among four handlers represented in Meydan, with Regulation (10f handicap) possibly the one best-equipped to continue the Kildare handler's fantastic spell in the sunshine.
Halford's recent 12-furlong course winner Certerach steps up in trip and grade for the Group Three Nad Al Sheeba Trophy, an extended 14-furlong contest that also features John Oxx's Saddler's Rock and Willie Mullins' Simenon.
Mullins' globe-trotting seven-year-old has to be the one of most interest under Ryan Moore. Narrowly denied in the Ascot Gold Cup by the queen's Estimate in June, he was subsequently chinned in the Yorkshire Cup.
Then, a close third in a Caulfield Group Two before he finished a gallant fourth in the Melbourne Cup, he signed off with a commendable fifth in the Group One Hong Kong Vase for Moore in December.
They are quite a collective of recommendations, so it will be fascinating to see how Simenon fares in a well-contested 5.10 today.