Garde La Victoire has been left with top weight following the five-day confirmations for The Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Greatwood Hurdle winner is at the head of the pile following the defection of Zamdy Man, who ran at Cheltenham at the weekend.
The five-year-old is third-favourite with the sponsors at 8-1 together with the Willie Mullins-trained Clondaw Warrior, third in the Greatwood. Sign Of A Victory is clear market leader at 5-1.
Hobbs said: “I’m glad it’s been dry recently as the better the ground, the better his chance.
“We thought about running him in the Relkeel at Cheltenham but he’d have been giving weight to horses rated higher than him so it just made no sense.”
Hobbs also has Exeter regular Hello George in the valuable handicap hurdle, for which there are 22 horses remaining. Sign Of A Victory, trained by Nicky Henderson, has been earmarked for this race since winning the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot more than six weeks ago.
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The Seven Barrows handler has a second possible in Cool Macavity but he has taken out his other entries, including recent Sandown scorer Snake Eyes, while John Ferguson is double-handed with Ruacana and Pine Creek.
In addition to Clondaw Warrior, there is a strong Irish representation as Gordon Elliott could saddle Bayan and Shadow Catcher, with Tony Martin’s Pyromaniac and Sea Beat from Arthur Moore’s stable the other Irish acceptors.
David Pipe, meanwhile, has two interesting contenders in Swing Bowler and Balgarry, who has not been sighted for more than 700 days. At Catterick today, Cavite Eta has what it takes to win the Point Home Care Handicap Chase on his first start since November 2013.
The seven-year-old, trained by Barry Murtagh, has gone well as a fresh horse in the past and can be trusted to shine in what looks a moderate encounter.
Cavite Eta impressed last year, with a narrow defeat of Think Its All Over over two miles at Sedgefield the highlight.
He also rubber-stamped his aptitude for more demanding stamina tests on his last run, again at Sedgefield, when he stayed every yard of the two-and-a-half-miles to finish a close fourth.
Murtagh’s decision to revert to miles at Catterick looks a wise one given previous winning exploits, not to mention the fact he has been out of action for so long.
As long as there is not too much more rainfall, conditions look just about perfect.
Doctor Parkes can belie his veteran status by winning the Download The BetVictor App Now Handicap at Kempton.
Stuart Williams’ representative is now an eight-year-old but the gelded son of Diktat was unlucky at the Sunbury circuit on 4 December as he twice had to be switched for a clear run.
Once daylight did appear, though, Doctor Parkes galloped powerfully towards the line to finish in fourth behind Diamond Charlie, beaten by just a length.
Thorpe Bay is a stand-out selection on Southwell’s all-weather card. Mick Appleby’s sprinter is the definition of a course specialist, having done all of his winning at the Nottinghamshire circuit.
Thorpe Bay geared up for the Daily Price Boosts At Unibet Handicap with an encouraging display at Wolverhampton, where he stayed on gamely for second behind Invincible Ridge in a five-furlong handicap.
The five-year-old son of Piccolo has gone up another 3lb for that run, which is a tad harsh, but he seldom lets the side down on a Fibresand surface.
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