The last Grade 1 of 2023, the Challow Hurdle, headlines the Newbury card on Saturday and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post has picked out his best bets.
The Mandarin Handicap Chase has a storied history, but these days has to settle for being a generally hot 0-135 handicap chase. Many horses have gone on from this race to become mainstays in top staying handicaps.
Bowtogreatness is arguably already there. He was second in a Premier handicap at Aintree on Grand National day when last seen and is dropping in class here. The eight-month gap in between is all that puts me off, irrespective of Ben Pauling's strong record in this race.
Atlanta Brave is race-fit, unexposed and looks ready for this test.
Kerry Lee excels with similar types and this horse remains very much in the early days of his career. He even looked inexperienced on his first attempt over 3m under rules last time, when he showed greenness under pressure in chasing home a ready winner at Exeter.
He has been left on the same mark of 121, which seems generous enough even before factoring in his wider promise.
This is a warm enough race to move him into, but Atlanta Brave gives off early impressions of becoming the sort of marathon chaser his trainer does well with, and who often wins the Mandarin.
Plenty has been made of the strength of Nicky Henderson's crop of novice hurdlers this season. There is plenty telling in the price Willmount returned on his hurdling debut, and him being the appointed Henderson runner in the first Grade 1 novice hurdle of the season in Britain.
Before his win at odds of 1/3 over 2m here in November, Willmount had already won three times in as many starts. He took a 3m point-to-point, hinting strongly that he will have the stamina for this trip. He then won two bumpers early in the year, recording big Racing Post Ratings for one outside of top-class events.
The only quibble with Willmount is that Newbury form, which is yet to work out and probably never will to the same extent that many similar races do.
Here we need to rely on the big visual impression, which saw Willmount stretching well clear for a shake of the reins against inferior opposition.
He might not have achieved it in the figures yet compared with Captain Teague or Lookaway, but Willmount is a serious prospect.
Good horses have tended to win this novice handicap chase in its short history. It being the sort of race it is, it has not always been easy to spot those with the most potential.
While the early market is siding with horses trained by Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, I am more excited about the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballycamus.
I like this horse's chasing debut, which came over 2m3f at Chepstow. He was not always the most polished in terms of his jumping, but not to an unacceptable level for a debutant, before getting up late to beat Ballybeen. The 6/4 favourite was the only other horse to finish remotely close.
Ballybeen shares Ballycamus' potential on breeding. They are brothers, by Presenting out of a sister to Whisper. And the third that day had split subsequent improvers the time before.
With promise for this longer trip, and for him to improve generally as he sharpens his jumping, Ballycamus looks a serious threat to the runners from the top yards here.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.