Double Whammy faces a maximum field of 15 rivals as he bids to land Friday’s £20,000 Heineken UK Highland National for the second year running on the final day of the Perth Festival.
The Iain Jardine-trained chaser, an eight-length scorer 12 months ago, shares top-weight with Sandy Thomson’s Borders National hero Harry The Viking.
Dual Grand National-winning jockey Leighton Aspell partners Optimistic Bias for Worcestershire handler James Evans, who won the Scone marathon in 2010 with Omix D’Or.
Nick and Lucy Alexander, who teamed up to secure the 2014 renewal with Bertie Milan, are represented by Marlee Massie.
All eyes will be on jockey Brian Harding as he has his final ride on Anywaythewindblows for Nicky Richards in the Heineken UK “Closing Time” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. Harding, 44, who has partnered over 600 winners including 1998 Champion Chase victor One Man, is hanging up his saddle after a quarter of a century with Richards’ Greystoke yard.
Nicky Henderson’s War Creation looks the one to be with in the Saltire Stables Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
The richest race of the whole week, £25,000 All New Discovery River Tay Handicap Chase, went to Paddy Brennan on Mystifiable.
Speaking after his charge had beaten Special Catch by two and a half lengths, trainer Fergal O’Brien said: “I thought this horse would enjoy the ground and it’s great to pick up such a nice prize at this time of year. We love coming to Perth. The ground is lovely and they have done a really good job with the fences.”
On a day of surprises, owners Mike and Eileen Newbould completed a double with Pain Au Chocolate and Endless Credit in the Heineken UK Handicap Chase and Congratulations To Brian Hughes From Stobart Chase.
The former, sent off at 5-2, is trained by Rebecca Menzies while the latter, a 16-1 shot, is based with Micky Hammond.
The Esher Cup at Sandown today looks ultra-competitive with no end of promising three-year-olds lining up. Roger Charlton’s Atty Persse was bought by Godolphin after winning on debut and a mark of 87 is likely to seriously underestimate this son of Frankel. He is entered in the Dante and Derby and Charlton has his string in form.