Hoof It appears to have regained a little of his old sparkle of late and can hit the target in the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager Handicap at Doncaster.
Mick Easterby’s charge paid the price for a stellar campaign in 2011 as he shot up the ratings following successes in a high-profile event at York and the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.
Placing third in the Sprint Cup at Haydock that September hardly helped his handicap mark which peaked at 119 but had been on the wane since as he endured a difficult time.
Winless in over four years, which were also punctuated with some injury issues, Hoof It returned to winning form off a mark of 91 at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting, prompting a 7lb hike back up the weights. Pitched into the Ayr Gold Cup, Hoof It was not disgraced in being beaten three lengths in eighth and a 2lb dip back down the weights is a plus here at a track he knows well.
At the other end of the scale, Magic Circle is on quite a roll this year, winning three of his four starts – a statistic he can further augment in the betdaq.com £50 In Free Bets Handicap. He started the year on 60 but sits on a perch of 81 following his recent gutsy success over two miles at Haydock just last week.
However, he lines up here off his old rating of 72 plus a 6lb penalty which technically puts him 3lb in front and makes him one for the shortlist.
Magic Circle can spearhead a double for Ralph Beckett, with Night To Remember also taken to be on the mark in the Betdaq 2% Commission British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.
Silken Skies shed his maiden tag at the third attempt and is one to watch as he switches to handicap company in Newbury’s Sir Gerald Whent Memorial Nursery Handicap, while Lady Atlas is the choice in the second division of the Meetings & Events At Wolverhampton Racecourse Handicap at Wolverhampton.
Penglai Pavilion can go down in the history books as the first winner of the 2015-16 Cheltenham season by landing the opening Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Group Two-placed on the Flat and fifth in the 2013 Arc when with Andre Fabre in France, Penglai Pavilion has shown plenty of aptitude for jumping in winning both of his outings for John Ferguson so far.
Better ground is obviously going to be more his forte than deep winter conditions and Ferguson will be keen to get another win in while the terrain is favourable.
Vicente is two from two in chase company and he can strike gold in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase.