The most attractive bets in the early market appear to be the pair at the foot of the handicap, Abuffalosoldier and Padleyourowncanoe.
Early favourite Shearer raced keenly over this trip before unseating his rider when top of the betting for a handicap at Cheltenham a fortnight ago. Having been well beaten when carrying twelve pounds lower than this in his only other three-mile handicap, he still has plenty to prove in this sphere.
More eye-catching in that same Cheltenham handicap, Padleyourowncanoe fell four out when well placed and was still seemingly travelling well within himself.
A well-backed second-favourite that day, Padleyourowncanoe was clearly expected to run a big race on his seasonal return and, provided he is none the worse for that fall, he could be a big player today.
He looks very attractively treated in the weights, especially as he should have come on for his reappearance earlier this month. Padleyourowncanoe is handicapped to win again soon, but one who can beat him today is the completely unexposed Abuffalosoldier.
15:40 (Newbury) Abuffalosoldier
This five-year-old gelding has only once finished out of the first three in his five completed starts, and that was when the soft ground at Wetherby in February was deemed to be unsuitable for him.
Much better on quicker ground, he made his handicap debut on his seasonal return last month on good ground over a shorter trip at Fontwell. He finished a never-nearer third of eight, forcing his way back into contention despite having become outpaced on the home bend, a performance that suggested a longer trip would suit.
That was his first outing for eight months and he probably needed it (he finished third on his debut run last year, before improving to win on both his second and third starts).
He is completely unexposed and is open to more progress than his rivals as a staying handicapper, and is the youngest and easily the most lightly-raced in the field, having had less than half the number of runs of any of his rivals,
Interestingly, Abuffalosoldier was sired by Mahler and is owned by the Mahler And The Wailers partnerships, the same connections involved with Edinburgh National winner Bob Mahler, another Warren Greatrex-trained Mahler gelding with a reggae-inspired name.
Bob Mahler has since been retired, so they bought this horse at the beginning of lockdown. He has pleased connections so far and they are confident that there is plenty more to come.
- Next Best: Padleyourowncanoe