Historic Heart brings much the best form to the table as he tackles the Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon.
His current rating of 131 reflects his fine run at Cheltenham last time, when he finished four and three-quarter lengths behind subsequent Grade One hero Adagio, keeping on well without really looking like getting near the convincing winner.
Historic Heart had previously finished over 12 lengths behind Adagio at Prestbury Park, when the pair ran fifth and second respectively behind Duffle Coat in a Triumph Hurdle trial.
That run admirably demonstrates the kind of level Nigel Hawke has been pitching at – and although Historic Heart falls a bit below that class, he is nevertheless smart enough.
He beat a subsequent winner at Wetherby in October – and Talking About You, whom he edged out at Sedgefield last August, has become a prolific winner, triumphing four times and twice at Listed level.
Historic Heart must shoulder an 8lb penalty for those victories here – but while the opposition is hard to weigh up, it could pay to side with a proven performer.
Birchdale carried plenty of confidence on his seasonal bow.
He let down his supporters, but those who keep the faith can be rewarded in the Racing TV Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
He had a bit of a false start to his chasing career last term when finishing third on his only outing in that sphere, but he certainly still made plenty of appeal on his return at Catterick – having finished a creditable eighth back over hurdles in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham last March.
Birchdale looked to be doing everything right as the 30-100 favourite in Yorkshire, but he hit the 12th fence and gave Aidan Coleman no chance of maintaining what appeared to be a promising partnership.
Nicky Henderson is sure to have been putting in the work on the schooling ground since – and given Birchdale was a winning point-to-pointer before racing under rules, he is clearly not a forlorn hope to rise through the ranks.
Graces Order should feel the benefit of her recent return when she lines up in the Racing TV Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
A bumper winner for Olly Murphy last term, she went for a Wincanton maiden hurdle before Christmas and was far from disgraced in third, beaten eight lengths after looking thoroughly in need of the outing.
She should strip fitter for that comeback after 281 days off.
Oo De Lally may make it three wins on the spin as he returns to action in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Handicap at Newcastle.
Andrew Balding’s charge was well beaten on his initial outing last September, but subsequently made great strides to win at Newbury later that month and then at Kempton in October.
He looked pretty smart in triumphing by three lengths under a penalty on the latter occasion, having to race wide before quickening clear in fine style to win with a chunk in hand.
His handicap mark of 94 is obviously high enough as a starting point, but Oo De Lally looks a horse of potential.
Scott Dixon’s runners thrive at Southwell, and both Gossip and Headland should be in the money again for the trainer.
Gossip has won twice over five furlongs in his last three outings at the Nottinghamshire venue, and he tackles that trip again in the Play 4 To Score At Betway Handicap.
The four-year-old is on a quick turnaround – having triumphed at the track last week – but with that win having come in an apprentice heat, he escapes a penalty here and can take full advantage.
Headland is making a similarly swift return in the Bombardier “March To Your Own Drum” Handicap – and although he does have 5lb extra to contend with, he still remains on a workable mark.
45 Blastofmagic, 4.
15 Zen Silence, 4.
45 Tirmizi, 5.
15 Mosala, 5.
45 Irwin, 6.
15 No Patience, 6.
45 Caesar’s Comet, 7.
15 Ranger Bob.
00 Martello Sky, 1.
30 Birchdale, 2.
00 HISTORIC HEART (NAP), 2.
30 Graces Order, 3.
00 Silkstone, 3.
30 Wye Aye, 4.
00 Gold In Doha.
40 Jen’s Fella, 1.
10 Utopian Lad, 1.
40 Pallas Dancer, 2.
10 Glen Again, 2.
40 Nawafeth, 3.
10 Oo De Lally, 3.
40 Sir Titus, 4.10 Loulin.
30 The British Lion, 5.
00 Headland, 5.
30 Pina Collada, 6.
00 First Excel, 6.
30 Expert Opinion, 7.
00 Gossip, 7.
30 Artistic Streak.
DOUBLE: Historic Heart and Gossip.
Colt is on course for Good Friday date.
Welsh National hero was last seen over hurdles at Warwick.