As we all try to catch our breath after the Cheltenham roller-coaster the bandwagon rolls on to Uttoxeter for their feature race of the year, the Betfred Midlands National.
It is a race that so often becomes a war of attrition owing to the nature of the ground that often prevails at the venue, however this year the official going is only good to soft so we can expect more to get round than the five that finished 12 months ago.
Mysteree deserves his place as one of the market leaders having already landed decent pots at Haydock and the Eider at Newcastle, and has a terrific 6/16 record in all races under rules.
A 6lb hike for winning such a prestigious race last time out is by no means harsh and he is a confident selection with the dependable Robbie Dunne keeping the ride.
Court Frontier has racked up a hat-trick since the turn of the year but has been raised a total of 21lb for those wins in lesser grade and he has more to prove here.
Gonalston Cloud is a very consistent stayer that has been second in the North Yorkshire National and the Edinburgh version on his last two starts, and remains well enough handicapped to be competitive again.
Mad Brian is another for the short list despite being one of the oldest runners in the field at the age of 11. He is quite lightly raced for his age and ran well in the race last year until tiring in the heavy ground.
This terrain will suit better and the booking of Richard Johnson catches the eye. Last year’s winner Firebird Flyer has been out of form this term and needs the first-time cheekpieces to work the oracle, but another horse set to go well is the novice Final Nudge.
The ground can dry out quickly at this time of year but hopefully there will be enough juice in it for American to take his chance in the 2.25, where he was diverted to after swerving Cheltenham owing to the surface.
Harry Fry’s novice looked poised to go well in the RSA Chase earlier this week so it will be disappointing if he can’t go really close from a mark of 148 in this novices handicap.
There doesn’t look to be too many well-handicapped horses in the 3.00 at Uttoxeter where De Vous A Moi could be the one to be on as this useful chaser makes his debut in a handicap hurdle, after successfully reverting to smaller obstacles last time.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies may have drawn a blank with his 17 Cheltenham runners but Ballyboley can right the ship in the handicap chase at 3.15 at Kempton.
The going was too soft for the eight-year-old’s return from a break last time out, but the fast circuit and good ground will play to the horse’s strengths in a £40,000 race that has attracted only seven runners.