Right-handed and undulating. Stiff test of stamina. Circuit 2m.
Top trainers with runners
Colin Tizzard has sent out 29 winners here over the past five seasons and managed seven in the 2020-21 season, a figure matched by Paul Nicholls.
Tizzard runs four this afternoon, including one of our selections (see below), while Nicholls runs Rhythm Is A Dancer in the handicap chase for novices (4.15).
Top jockeys with runners
Tom Scudamore, who has ridden 19 winners (from 147 runners, 13%) at the track over the last five seasons, will get the leg up on Carolines Charm in the handicap chase (2.30).
Oliver Greenall sends out three horses from his Cheshire base, a journey of 198 miles: Blue Collar Glory (1.55), My Poem (3.05) and Boundsy Boy (3.40).
2.30 - Sizing At Midnight
All nine of the runners in this 2m3f handicap chase have a chance of sorts, but the selection is the best treated of all and showed he was no back number when finishing second over a furlong further at Uttoxeter last month.
That was a welcome return to form for the now nine-year-old, who has generally struggled since taking a crashing fall three out in last November's Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton.
Still in contention at the time and running off a mark of 133 that day, he has since slipped down the weights quite dramatically and can race off 116 here, which is a mark 5lb lower than his last winning one.
While both his chase wins have come over 3m, this is a stiff track and I'd expect Brendan Powell to give him a positive ride from the front, which is how he likes to be ridden.
3.40 - Gerard Mentor
Kim Bailey's five-year-old proved no match for Sergeant when last seen out at Newton Abbot in August, but that was no disgrace as the easy winner was getting a stone, and the pair finished nicely clear of the remainder.
The form was franked when the winner went in again at Sedgefield nine days ago and he could give the selection another timely boost, should he follow up in the proceeding handicap hurdle on the card (3.05).
Regardless of that result, though, the Bailey runner has the necessary scope to build on his latest run, his best since undergoing wind surgery in the summer, and go one better.
4.50 - Guinness Affair
Jamie Snowden has made a flying start to the new season with 18 winners on the board already and his Guinness Affair, who has contributed three of those wins, can complete a four-timer in this 2m2f handicap hurdle.
The four-year-old has won back-to-back hurdles after getting off the mark under Rules in a bumper in May and had been under consideration for Friday's Persian War Hurdle, in which he would not have looked out of place.
But rather run him in that Grade 2 and potentially ruin what looks a very fair opening handicap mark of 117 - he's surely a 130 plus horse - Snowden has opted for this far easier handicap option instead, and that looks a smart move.
Snowden could enjoy an across-the-card double with his Anythingforlove (1.38 Worcester), who looks sure to take plenty of beating on her novice chase debut.
A 129-rated hurdler, she has reportedly schooled well at home and is considered to be a potential Graded performer over fences.