Punters are spoilt for choice tomorrow with eight meetings in Britain, and those looking for value could do worse than side with Bustan at Kempton Park.
The Marcus Tregoning-trained five-year-old has spent much of the winter in Italy, where he was acting as lead horse to the yard’s high-class performer Mubtaker.
Bustan returned to these shores last month and ran with great credit in the Winter Derby at Lingfield Park on his reappearance.
He raced prominently throughout the 10 furlongs and after holding every chance, was just run out of it close home. He finished third, beaten a neck and a head by Caluki and Anani.
Bustan’s jockey Richard Hills dropped his whip about a furlong out, but it probably did not make any difference to his finishing position., and it was nevertheless an encouraging effort.
That was Bustan’s first race for 141 days, having finished second in a Listed race at Newmarket last October on his previous start.
Bustan clearly retains his ability and will come on for the outing. He is still relatively lightly raced and looks capable of further improvement.
He is expected to open his account for the season in the Listed Magnolia Stakes.
Steel Blue gained his first success since his two-year-old days when holding on by a short head from Law Breaker at Doncaster’s Lincoln meeting.
Richard Whitaker’s four-year-old was gelded last back-end and the operation appears to have done the trick.
At Doncaster, Steel Blue showed plenty of pace to make all the running. He is clearly in good heart and can stage a repeat performance to land the Sharp Minds Betfair Stakes.
Pablo was a major disappointment when backed down to favourite to repeat his victory of last season in the Freephone Stanleybet Lincoln.
The Barry Hills-trained five-year-old trailed in 19th of the 24 runners after fading from two furlongs out.
That was a rare poor effort from the normally consistent Pablo, who is best judged on his decent fifth to Babodana in a Listed event at Newmarket last October.
He was beaten three lengths by the winner that day, but it was a hot race and he should be more at home in the ‘West Midlands’ Conditions Stakes at Warwick.
Pablo should not be inconvenienced by the drop back to seven furlongs and as he gets all the allowances, having not previously won a conditions race, he can be backed to regain the winning thread.
Artie can show the benefit of his first run of the season with victory in the Easter Bunny Handicap at Redcar.
Tim Easterby’s charge raced prominently under the stands side until the lack of a recent outing told in Steel Blue’s race at Doncaster.
He goes particularly well with give underfoot and with conditions likely to be in his favour at the Cleveland track, Artie can record his first success since the 2002 William Hill Trophy.
Beau Artiste was a frustrating handicapper on the Flat but showed enough on his jumping debut to suggest there are races to be won with him over hurdles.
He was beaten four lengths by Kingkohler at Musselburgh in January after keeping on well on the run-in.
Beau Artiste is sure to have learned from the experience and can go one better in the Good Luck Matthew Stevens Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle at Sedgefield.
Over at Fairyhouse, Xenophon appeals off a handy mark in the Powers Gold Label Irish Grand National.
Tony Martin’s charge was a very smart performer over timber last season and won the Pierse Hurdle and the Coral Cup in the manner of a highly-progressive individual.
He has had his attentions turned to fences this term but has not proved a natural over the bigger obstacles.
However, he indicated at Gowran Park in January that he is capable of winning a decent chase, particularly over a distance like tomorrow’s three miles and five furlongs.
After being held up at Gowran, Xenophon kept on well from three out to stay on into third place, nine lengths behind the winner Boneyarrow.
That race was over an inadequate two and a half miles and he should be more at home over tomorrow’s marathon trip.
If anywhere near his hurdles form, Xenophon, who has recently pleased connections in a schooling session, looks well-in tomorrow.