The ground was described as soft at Ayr for today’s eight-race card and I was surprised to see Reivers Lad (3.05) put in as big as 7/2 with William Hill for the 2m handicap chase for Nicky Richards. The stable has a decent prospect to go to war with next season in novice chases with Wetlands who scored at Newcastle at the weekend.

The selection was going strongly, and jumping well, when coming down five out on his first start in 772 days at Haydock back in January and he has been given over a month to get over those exertions. The selection certainly has the physique to jump a fence and I remember his chase debt success when he got up close home to beat Ravenhill Road and Cool Mix on good to soft ground although the time suggested it was nearer good.

He will get further than 2m, but he has won half of his 10 career starts and should have the race run to suit with early favourite Victory Echo likely to ensure a decent gallop. I would be surprised if the selection didn’t go off market leader and he was in to 2/1 with 10bet at the time of posting which was the price I was expecting.

Richards’ Uncle Alistair has been off the track since chasing home Kim Bailey’s Vinndication at Carlisle back in November 2018 in receipt of 10lbs. It was reported he had a wind operation back in February 2020 which suggests he was near to making a comeback 12 months ago, but he must overcome an 840-day absence in a fascinating novice handicap chase over 2m 4f+.

He has been put in at 2/1 which looks short enough and I must give another chance to Sirwilliamwallace (4.10) who was jumping from fence to fence before stumbling after a mistake in the back straight at Kelso over 2m 6f last time. His fencing fell apart after that and he did well in the circumstances to be beaten just over 3L although the form is nothing special. His stablemate Milvale makes his chase debut and is another to consider in a hot little contest. The selection is 7/4 with BetVictor.

The ground was given as good at Plumpton on Sunday ahead of today’s card and it will not be long before Cheltenham are contemplating watering ahead of the Festival which starts in just over two weeks’ time.

She’s Gina is hardly one of the stable stars at Dan Skelton but today’s 2m 4f trip will suit a mare who failed to get home on her penultimate start over 3m at Doncaster. I just favour Jungle Prose (12.30) who finished second in a Jumpers Bumper at Lingfield last time and will appreciate the return to decent conditions having won a Bumper at Warwick on good ground back in the autumn. The ew recommendation i9s 7/2 with William Hill – 4 places.

Summit Like Herbie (1.00) has been dropped a couple of pounds in the weights since finishing second at Southwell back in the autumn and connections have bypassed the winter ground to wait for a better surface. The selection scored at Doncaster under Jordan Nailor 12 months ago and he returns to the saddle this afternoon in this conditional jockey’s contest. That success was gained over 3m and today’s additional two furlongs is a slight concern – note the race run will be run over an extra 153 yards to that advertised. Despite the possible stamina limitations he is the most likely winner on good ground and is 11/4 with Boylesports.  

Natural History (1.30) was never going after an early mistake at Wincanton last time, but he may have bumped into a useful sort in Lucky One and he makes his handicap debut from what is potentially an attractive mark. The selection – 5/4 from 11/8 with William Hill – won on good ground for Andrew Balding on the level and holds an entry in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham later in the month.

Crooks Peak pulled too hard in the race formerly know as the Gerry Feilden at Newbury behind the subsequent Champion Hurdler Epatante back in November 2019 when he pulled like a train. He has been plying his trade on ground softer than ideal in recent starts but has been given a chance by the handicapper. He is a big danger for his inform yard and was nibbled at in the betting over the weekend. I shall be looking at markets without the favourite on Monday morning.

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