Noel Chance’s Mendo should prove in a different league to his rivals at Ascot tomorrow.
Chance knows the time of day when he gets his hands on a good horse and has again worked his magic with this progressive individual.
Such was the authoritative manner of his Market Rasen success earlier this month, Upper Lambourn’s finest was left dreaming of glory at either Punchestown and Aintree.
And while those destinations remain on Mendo’s radar, the Camra Colin Lanham Memorial “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle offers a nice opportunity to rack up another confidence-boosting victory in the interim.
The seven-year-old escapes a penalty for his nine-length waltz as it was a race for conditional riders and he will, according to Chance, appreciate the better ground at Ascot – even though his two wins so far have come on soft.
While his Market Rasen triumph was achieved over a longer trip than he encounters here, the drop to two miles does not give cause for concern given the zip he has shown on his seven starts to date.
Royal Shakespeare has enjoyed a relatively light campaign compared to last season’s exertions so will be fit as a flea for the Berkshire Life Novices’ Chase.
Steve Gollings’ Order of Merit winner has fared pretty well over fences and gained a deserved victory at Kempton in January.
Having collided with a clutch of top runners on his first three starts over larger obstacles – Twist Magic, Briareus and Jack The Giant to name but a few - a blunder at the last fence did not tarnish a convincing 10-length call last time out.
Royal Shakespeare’s biggest asset is his raw speed over this sort of trip and now his jumping seems to have improved, this two-mile-one-furlong contest is there for the taking on ground he should relish.
Breedsbreeze can finally live up to his tall reputation in the Carraig Insurance Maiden Hurdle.
The five-year-old was reportedly a real diamond the between the flags in Ireland which prompted Paul Nicholls to bring him to Ditcheat.
Things have not quite gone to plan yet, however, with third-placed finishes at Ascot and Wincanton to his name.
The latter was particularly disappointing as he was sent off a warm-order but appeared to relinquish a winning chance by hanging right on the run-in.
Breedsbreeze still only went down by four and a half lengths to a decent Alan King horse and this longer distance may help him to settle better.
Nicholls is a master with these stamp of unexposed hurdlers and is taken to get the best out of this one before too long.
Lucayos has been in the form of his life and can register a hat-trick in the feature race at Lingfield.
Described by trainer Heidi Sweeting as a “daydreamer”, the four-year-old did not have his head in the clouds when landing a course-and-distance double.
A narrow defeat of Zarzu – third placed Lethal was four lengths adrift – was supplemented by a similarly determined effort earlier this month.
Despite the burden of a 5lb penalty, Lucayos did well to lower the colours of Rowe Park by a short head.
Another 4lb on his back makes life even tougher here but his prominent style of racing can yield further improvement in the valuable Play Golf At Lingfield Park Handicap.
Wolverhampton punters drinking in the last-chance saloon can get out of jail be supporting Elyaadi in the pontins.com Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
Mick Channon’s three-year-old has a long way to go to justify her Oaks entry but is bred to make into a top middle-distance campaigner.
While she was turned over as an odds-on chance over course and distance last time, that run confirmed she is not without pace.
Clearly talented, Elyaadi can go one better here en route to grander assignments on the turf.