Politologue can cement his position as Britain’s best two-mile chaser with victory in the Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot.
Despite the 10-year-old being the reigning champion chaser, his profile does not currently match the likes of Altior – but he nevertheless remains the one to beat in this Grade One feature.
Politologue did not really shine in his first couple of starts last term, finishing behind the reopposing Defi Du Seuil in both the Shloer and Tingle Creek Chases.
However, come the spring, he showed his Festival rivals a clean pair of heels.
As Defi Du Seuil failed to fire, Politologue ended a losing run of more than a year, jumping for fun up front and powering up the Cheltenham hill for a nine-and-a-half-length verdict.
Politologue then doubled down on his seasonal bow, again making all for an effortless Tingle Creek verdict which has propelled him to his current career-high mark of 169.
Defending champion Defi Du Seuil would clearly be a threat if back on form, while Waiting Patiently also makes some appeal, but preference is for the proven performer.
Roksana appears a similarly outstanding candidate in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle.
Dan Skelton’s charge did not really hit her stride last term, but two runs this season have shown she has not lost her ability – with a comprehensive victory over Next Destination at Wetherby setting her up nicely for the Long Walk at this track last month.
Paisley Park and Thyme Hill proved too good that day, but there was no shame in Roksana’s two-length defeat against the two best staying hurdlers in training.
De Forgotten One is seemingly on the upgrade and is the pick in the Matchbook Best Odds Handicap Chase.
After a fine third around Cheltenham’s cross-country course, Richard Hobson’s runner showed he is equally at home over regulation obstacles when hacking up by 13 lengths at Catterick.
The handicapper has raised him 10lb for that win, but this seven-year-old is on a rapid upwards trajectory.
Royal Ascot runner-up Tritonic can make a winning start over obstacles in the bet365 Juvenile Hurdle.
Beaten half a length in the Golden Gates Handicap, he ran into a couple of good ones later in the year but remains a very useful jumping recruit.
At Haydock, many will be keen to support impressive Kempton winner – and subsequent Gold Cup entry – Royale Pagaille, in the feature Peter Marsh Handicap Chase.
Venetia Williams’ ex-French gelding is up more than a stone for his Christmas romp, and carries top-weight here.
That, however, is less of a concern than what appeared to be a tendency to jump low at some fences last time – which around Haydock could just catch him out.
On that basis, he is opposable – and Sam Brown, successful on this card 12 months ago, has plenty going for him on ground which will suit ideally.
The return of dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air will also be of major interest.
The 10-year-old faces only two rivals in the The New One Unibet Hurdle – and although no foregone conclusion, he should get the job done because he is vastly well-in on ratings yet in receipt of weight after his long absence.
Tintoretto hit the bar at Wolverhampton last time and can go one place better in the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Handicap at Newcastle.
The six-year-old was edged out by a neck over seven furlongs, having slipped back to his last winning mark of 81.
The handicapper has hiked him 2lb for that, which is perhaps a bit harsh, but Tintoretto is in decent heart and can defy that rise.
Former Godolphin runner Great Esteem made a winning start for Archie Watson this month, and can keep up the good work in the Betway Casino Handicap.
The five-year-old was primed for his return after 471 days off the track, making all for a near two-length win despite showing a few signs of greenness on what was only his third career start.
Switching to handicap company here, Great Esteem could still be well treated off a starting perch of 85.
40 Tritonic, 1.
15 Roksana, 1.
50 Kateson, 2.
25 De Forgotten One, 3.
00 Jonniesofa, 3.
35 POLITOLOGUE (NAP), 4.
10 Jeremy Pass.
55 Marown, 1.
30 Nada To Prada, 2.
05 Hijack, 2.
40 Sam Brown, 3.
15 Buveur D’Air, 3.
50 Black Pirate, 4.
20 Nefyn Point.
50 Ruaille Buaille, 1.
22 Folcano, 1.
57 Agusta Gold, 2.
32 Satin Sun, 3.
07 Lord Royal, 3.
42 Johnnys Girl, 4.
05 Great Esteem, 4.
40 Heatherdown Matron, 5.
10 Your Choice, 5.
40 Tintoretto, 6.
10 Craved, 6.
40 Eldelbar, 7.
10 Jack The Truth.
30 Seelotmorebusiness, 1.
05 Banana Joe, 1.
35 State Crown, 2.
10 The Mighty Don, 2.
45 Gortroe Joe, 3.
25 City Flame, 4.
00 Agent Valdez, 4.
30 Mayhem Mya.
DOUBLE: Politologue and De Forgotten One.
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