Try a 'saver' on John to land Newbury showpiece
Paul Nicholls saddles Pacha Du Polder and The Knoxs in his quest to win a sixth Stan James Greatwood Gold Cup in eight years at Newbury today, though neither horse has prised Ruby Walsh away from Doncaster.
Of course, that isn't necessarily a negative, and you could certainly make a strong case for The Knoxs under Daryl Jacob.
Successful at Ayr in the spring for Walsh, the Graham Wylie-owned 10-year-old was booked for either first or second on his reappearance over today's course and distance at the end of November, only to crash out at the last beneath Noel Fehily.
However, he is up 2lb now to a mark 8lb higher than he has ever won off. For a horse of his age with limited scope for improvement, odds of 5/1 are about right.
Garynella trades at a similar price for David Pipe. He has done little in England to justify such an elevated position in the market, but it is understandable that the layers are wary.
A winner and four-time runner-up from five chasing starts in France, he got bogged down in barely raceable ground on his only run for Pipe at Cheltenham in December.
Off bottom weight, Garynella might well be a handicap risk, but he still has it to prove and there are better value options available.
The two of most interest are Tony Star and Saved By John. Both are progressive sorts with just a handful of runs over fences.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Tony Star was the more accomplished hurdler, and the latest of his three chasing starts was encouraging, when he stayed on nicely for second over two miles behind the useful Tetlami.
Today's longer trip and better ground will suit and he is a solid each-way option at around 10/1.
Still, off a first-time mark of 138, the handicapper has erred on the side of caution with a horse that never won off higher than 129 over flights.
That Richard Johnson has opted for Tony Star over Saved By John, which he has ridden on its last eight outings, might be perceived as a negative, but his first loyalty is to Hobbs. Tim Vaughan has put the useful three-pound claimer Michael Byrne on Saved By John instead. The booking means that the six-pound hike that the eight-year-old received for a game win over Bury Parade at Wincanton at the end of January is halved and his effort in defeat at Chepstow, on his only other start since June, was also full of promise.
On that occasion three weeks earlier, he went down fighting to Sew On Target, which was receiving seven pounds.
Shangani, 13 lengths back in third, has since won twice by a combined 13 lengths, while Speedy Bruere, eight lengths behind in fourth, scored by 11 next time.
That is solid form, and two and a half miles on good to soft ground today may be just what Saved By John needs.
A fast ground winner over flights, he hosed up on his fencing bow on a similar surface to this at Uttoxeter in June.
When he then disappointed at Hexham, the ground was heavy and Johnson confirmed after his latest win that he had obliged despite the testing going.
That victory also came over two miles, which he clearly needed every yard of, as both his previous wins, as well as a Kildorrery point-to-point victory, came over two-and-a-half plus. As such, Saved By John has lots in his favour today, so offers of around 14/1 look too big.
In the equivalent Ladbrokes-sponsored hurdle 35 minutes earlier, Turn Over Sivola appeals for Alan King and Robert Thornton.
This is a wide-open affair, but the selection's form has held up well when the going has been less than testing. At Kempton last time, he finished third to Whitby Jack and three of the next four home have since won four times.
Off a two-pound lower mark, then, Turn Over Sivola has a decent chance of making it three from six over flights on this decent surface.
On what is an equally tricky card up at Doncaster, Warden Hill is one to keep on side under AP McCoy in the novice hurdle.
An all-weather bumper winner, Mick Channon's charge ran well to be fifth to African Gold on its jumping debut over course and distance when the going was soft.
As a son of Presenting, he will be more effective on the good ground that prevails at the track now.
Best Bet: Saved By John