AERIAL (3.10) has been sending out the right signals to Paul Nicholls and is fancied to land Saturday’s Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury. The ex-French chaser made a winning UK debut at Wincanton last February and kicked off the new campaign with an excellent fourth behind Great Endeavour in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, when a blunder at the 11th didn’t help his cause. Aerial made no mistake next time at Ascot, whipping Giorgio Quercus by 10 lengths, and the benevolent handicapper saw fit to drop him 3lb for finishing fourth to The Giant Bolster at Cheltenham in January.
Nicholls saddles lightly-raced SIRE COLLONGES (3.45) in the Ladbrokes-sponsored Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, an event he finished third in 12 months ago. Sire Collonges has had a long break since blotting his copybook at Aintree in April when falling at the final flight but will be wound up for this nice prize.
Earlier on the card, TARVINI (2.05) can complete his hat-trick in the three-mile Betfair Handicap Hurdle. The son of Kalanisi, an Aga Khan cast-off, has found life over hurdles to his liking for Jonjo O’Neill, and conditional rider Maurice Lineham is one of the top 7lb claimers plying his trade this winter.
The Grand National is on the agenda for WEST END ROCKER (3.25), who completes his big-race build up in the feature William Hill Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. Alan King’s chaser has been kept under wraps since hammering Niche Market in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December when heavy underfoot conditions were very different to what he will encounter on Town Moor. However, he scored here on good to firm ground as a novice which boosts confidence. Neptune Equester looks a live threat lurking near the foot of the handicap, with a useful claimer further reducing his burden.
At Lingfield, old boy KAMES PARK (4.30) is running consistently well and is nicely treated in this 1m 4f handicap, especially with Charles Eddery taking off 5lb. Front-running Maslak should ensure there is a decent tempo, with Kames Park sitting in behind waiting to deliver his trademark late thrust.
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