Kelso’s card tomorrow has some real quality on show, with Forest Bihan top of the tree.
Brian Ellison has one of his stable stars very early in the season for the NSPCC School Service Handicap Chase but he would not need to improve on any of his form from last term to make a winning reappearance.
He faces far from a cakewalk against the likes of Double W’s, Just Cameron and Simply Ned, but Forest Bihan has the potential to be better than a handicapper this season.
He won three of his six starts as a novice over fences, with his only defeats coming against Waiting Patiently, Altior and San Benedeto.
It is that last performance at Aintree that will still grate with Ellison as he seemed to throw away a Grade One, although, in truth, he would have been a fortunate winner as Politologue stumbled after the last. That appeared to have given Forest Bihan an open goal but San Benedeto, a stablemate of Politologue, rallied to win on the line.
Yes, it may have been a weak race for the grade but Forest Bihan also beat Cloudy Dream in a Grade Two at Doncaster so it is not as if he has one standout piece of form and Ellison will have high hopes for him in open company.
Kevin Ryan does not have too many jumpers in his care but Beyond The Clouds could be very good.
The four-year-old won two of his three bumpers and makes his debut over timber in the Celebration Novices’ Hurdle.
His sole defeat at Musselburgh in February came against an Ellison runner who has subsequently made a mark over timber and Ryan let his charge strengthen up before bringing him back to win by 14 lengths at Worcester in September.
Victory in a novice hurdle should be a formality.
Bestiarius did not have much fortune last season but a summer on his back should have done him the world of good before the Queens Head Hotel Kelso Novices’ Hurdle.
A bumper winner for Keith Reveley, he moved to Nicky Richards and bumped into the useful Sam Spinner on his hurdling debut. Next time out he was going to be involved in the finish again before unseating two out at Bangor.
Richards will not rush with him and his future is probably over fences but he can make his mark over hurdles first.
In today’s action, Usherette can provide French racing with a timely lift by winning the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.
Questions were asked on Arc day last Sunday as the home side suffered a complete wipeout, with British and Irish horses winning all six races on the card. But in times of hardship, France can, and probably always will, turn towards Andre Fabre for inspiration.
The genius Chantilly handler is responsible for Usherette as she looks to follow in the hoofprints of Esoterique, the Fabre mare who won this race two years ago.
Fabre’s latest Sun Chariot contender has already had a distinguished career, and would be an utterly worthy winner of the Group One over a mile.
Things have not gone her way this year, however, as she was a little unfortunate in the Prix d’Ispahan in May.
She then endured even greater misfortune as she attempted to claim back-to-back renewals of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Usherette only went down by a length to Qemah, but she was rarely afforded the luxury of a clean path and simply had to ride out the storm for most of the race.
The five-year-old daughter Shamardal was then sent to Deauville for the Prix Rothschild, but she did not appear totally at ease with having to make the running and eventually weakened into sixth place.
A return to more protracted tactics did its job in a Listed race at Maisons-Laffitte last month when she stayed on with plenty of vim to score by a short neck.
This year’s Sun Chariot looks right up to scratch, but Usherette is a seriously smart horse when things go her way and yet she is likely to be available at nice odds.