The jumps are now front and centre and there are some cracking races to look forward to on Saturday.
Not least of those is the reappearance of Arkle winner Footpad at Naas early in the day. He’s not much of a betting proposition but, in the same colours, Wholestone is fancied at Aintree.
This race was won a year ago by Unowhatimeanharry and the Harry Fry-trained ten-year-old is back for another bite of the cherry. He failed to get another win last term and, despite a wind operation over the summer, seems opposable.
Three years his junior is the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Wholestone, who finished an excellent second in a Grade 1 here in the spring.
Perhaps his best effort of last season came at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day when he landed the Relkeel Hurdle over this 2m4f trip.
Interestingly, connections skipped a three-mile engagement at Wetherby last weekend to come here and he’s fancied to re-establish his advantage over Cleeve Hurdle conqueror Agrapart now back down in distance.
Staying at the Merseyside track, Dan Skelton’s lightly-raced Some Invitation is worth an each-way look in this competitive handicap chase over two-and-a-half-miles.
He caught the eye around Cheltenham in April on his first start after a wind operation, travelling like the best horse before ultimately failing to stay 3m2f up that punishing hill.
Some Invitation didn’t repeat it next time at Uttoxeter, but is worth another chance given his profile and the fact he remains unexposed.
The drop in trip and this flat circuit are positives and having dropped 5lb since that Cheltenham run in the spring, the chances are he goes close with a repeat.
It seems probable that Secret Investor and Bags Groove will jostle for favouritism in this novices’ chase and preference is for Harry Fry’s runner.
He was a 140-rated hurdler last term and already appears on his way to being a much better chaser ahead of his outing at Wincanton.
Bags Groove won a decent novice contest at Ffos Las last time and won’t mind a bit of better ground now.
Paul Nicholls’ Secret Investor also showed improved form last time when scoring over hurdles but he may give best here to a rival with experience jumping fences now.
Footpad is the star attraction on the card at Naas but punters won’t be getting much return backing the long odds-on jolly.
Instead Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now – who chased home Footpad in a Leopardstown Grade 1 last Christmas, merits the vote.
Any Second Now also played second fiddle behind the likes of Invitation Only and Monalee last season and is forgiven a poor run at Cheltenham in March.
He goes well fresh and has standout claims of taking this beginners contest on his seasonal bow.
For all new customers, ComeOn are currently offering a £10 free bet – make sure you sign up!