Dan Skelton looks booked for a big day at Wetherby where Born Survivor can take advantage of a bit of respite from the assessor in the Cash Out At Bet365 Handicap Chase.
Fourth in the race 12 months ago on what was also his reappearance, he only ran twice more last season when fourth in the Peterborough Chase and fourth to Frodon in a Grade Two at Kempton.
He is 3lb lower for his first run of the campaign this time around in what is arguably a weaker renewal.
As Two For Gold looks better suited to three miles, Born Survivor’s main rival is surely the ultra-consistent top weight Happy Diva – who simply does not know how to run a bad race.
She was second last year off 142, won what is now again the Paddy Power Gold Cup next time out and went on to be second at the Festival off 149, but surely a mark of 153 on her first run of the season will prove beyond her.
Skelton’s Shan Blue has to give another horse placed at the Festival – Mick Channon’s Hold The Note – 6lb in the Bet365 Novices’ Chase, which on the face of it could prove difficult, given they have the same official rating.
However, Shan Blue looked a smart proposition when winning on his seasonal reappearance over this course and distance 16 days ago.
He was set some stiff tasks over hurdles against the likes of Shishkin and Envoi Allen, but he looks tailor-made for fences and can take high rank.
Skelton’s Third Time Lucki fared best of the British when fourth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, and made a fine transition to hurdles at Uttoxeter.
He carries a penalty in the Bet365 Novices’ Hurdle, but should prove up to the task if he has any pretensions of making up into a Graded performer.
Rose Dobbin’s Some Reign threatened to be a good horse in his younger days, but never quite fulfilled his promise.
He won last time out, though, and the penny may finally have dropped for the nine-year-old – who runs in the Each Way Extra At Bet365 Handicap Chase.
Colin Tizzard has spoken highly of his new recruit Fulgurix, who makes his British debut in the first division of the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Novices’ Hurdle at Uttoxeter.
Bought privately by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, he is likely to take a fair bit of beating, although a few of Tizzard’s string have looked as though they are in need of their first runs of the season.
The second division sees Harry Fry’s classy bumper performer Get In The Queue return to action, having missed the whole of last season.
Roger Varian has unleashed some promising juveniles in recent weeks, and Dubawi Sands could be another in the Follow MansionBet On Instagram British EBF Novice Stakes at Newmarket.
The Dubawi colt is a half-brother to 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold.
Tim Easterby’s Lampang made a belated return to action at Musselburgh recently, and was noted staying on well in the closing stages behind Makanah.
That was only the fourth run of his life, and he remains massively unexposed in the MansionBet Watch And Bet Conditions Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s Happy Romance has been a real money spinner this season and can sign off for the campaign with a victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bosra Sham” Fillies’ Stakes.
She has won two big sales races and a Group Three – and was not disgraced when fourth in the Cheveley Park, beaten just two lengths.
There are some real stars on show at Down Royal, and Gordon Elliott seemingly holds the key as he takes the wraps off a handful of his leading hopes.
Farouk D’alene starts a new discipline in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle; Queens Brook runs in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle, and his Champion Hurdle possible Abacadabras lines up in the WKD Hurdle.
However, all eyes will be on Envoi Allen who makes his debut over fences in the Advanced NI Scaffolding Beginners Chase.
Unbeaten in eight races under Rules, he is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner.
DOWN ROYAL: 12.40 Farouk D’alene, 1.15 Queens Brook, 1.50 Abacadabras, 2.25 Select Opportunity, 3.00 Envoi Allen, 3.35 Timoteo, 4.10 Any Givin Sunday.
DUNDALK: 4.30 Montego Bay, 5.00 Pretty Smart, 5.30 Kushkame, 6.00 Feminism, 6.30 War Hero, 7.00 Chagall, 7.30 Laugh A Minute, 8.00 Ela Katrina.
NEWCASTLE: 4.15 General Joe, 4.45 Strong Steps, 5.15 Daddy Frank, 5.45 Klopp, 6.15 Global Hero, 6.45 Alsephina, 7.15 Dafinah, 7.45 Global Warning, 8.15 Nordic Fire.
NEWMARKET: 12.35 Dubawi Sands, 1.10 Lampang, 1.45 Happy Romance, 2.20 Solo Saxophone, 2.55 Speed Company, 3.30 Water’s Edge, 4.05 Mascat.
UTTOXETER: 12.15 Fulgurix, 12.50 Get In The Queue, 1.25 Panic Attack, 2.00 Milreu Has, 2.35 Fishkhov, 3.10 King Roland, 3.45 Black Tulip, 4.20 Joly Maker.
WETHERBY: 11.55 Cyrus Keep, 12.25 Apple Rock, 1.00 Shan Blue, 1.35 William H Bonney, 2.10 BORN SURVIVOR (NAP), 2.45 Longclaw, 3.20 Some Reign, 3.55 Third Time Lucki.
DOUBLE: Born Survivor and Shan Blue.