Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders is on hand to provide his four best bets across an excellent card at Ascot on Saturday.
Punters should never take what a trainer says as gospel, but Nicky Henderson's comments about IMMORTAL in a recent Racing Post stable tour back up the feeling I had that this five-year-old could be a smart prospect. He goes in Ascot's opener.
Henderson said: "He was big and weak last season and can go a long way over hurdles, but is extremely exciting for chasing next autumn."
Immortal was second in the two novice hurdles he contested last term (each at Sandown which like Ascot is right-handed) and was clearly unfortunate to bump into two of Gary Moore's best novice hurdlers in Authorised Speed and Givega.
The Moore pair are rated 133 and 132 now and Immortal pulled a combined distance of 19 lengths clear of the third in the two contests.
That means Immortal remains a novice for the upcoming season and a mark of 110 is there for the taking.
The booking of top conditional jockey Freddie Gordon to ride also intrigues me. He is operating at a 21 percent strike-rate this season and is 1-1 when combining with Henderson.
With Gordon's 6lb claim factored in, Immortal will be running off joint-second bottomweight in this novice handicap and rates an afternoon banker.
It is interesting Paul Nicholls has seen fit to enter the 117-rated RARE MIDDLETON for the Greatwood Hurdle in 15 days' time as he will need to incur a winner's penalty to have any chance of making the cut for that. The journey can begin in the 2m handicap hurdle at Ascot.
Rare Middleton recorded a Racing Post Rating of 97 when landing a soft-ground Leopardstown maiden for former connections on the Flat last November, suggesting he could have quite a bit in hand on his hurdles mark, and his introduction in this sphere for Nicholls at Taunton in January took the eye.
In his juvenile hurdle victory, he recorded a 7.2secs quicker time than stablemate Adafil did when landing the second division and that horse is now rated 127.
Rare Middleton produced a solid third in the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton next time behind two excellent yardsticks in the division in Nusret and Perseus Way, and is fitter than racecards will lead you to believe as he landed a Wincanton charity race on the Flat last Saturday.
That proved the wind surgery after his Fakenham disappointment has worked and he can cash in on a tempting mark.
I'm torn between two runners in the 3m handicap chase and, having resisted the urge to tip BEAUPORT ante-post earlier in the week due to his possible engagement in the Colin Parker at Carlisle on Sunday, I won't be deserting him now we know he runs at Ascot.
Beauport produced his best effort of the previous campaign first time out on soft ground when denying Grade 1-winning novice chaser Millers Bank in the Colin Parker, and is now 6lb lower on BHA ratings.
He needs to prove he stays this far on soft conditions over fences after not getting home in the 3m2f Kim Muir at Cheltenham, but his connections clearly see him as a staying chaser and he is only seven, while he undoubtedly showed plenty of stamina when a keeping-on second in a 17-runner Grade 3 handicap hurdle over 3m at Sandown in 2022.
It remains early days for him as a chaser and the Nigel Twiston-Davies team have begun the season in excellent form.
I'm also intrigued by MUCHO MAS for Ben Pauling in this 12-runner affair.
Pauling's first time out runners are going better than the numbers indicate. He saddled a first, second and third (each coming off long breaks) in big fields at Cheltenham's Showcase meeting last week and I fancy Mucho Mas has been earmarked for this for a long time.
The lightly raced seven-year-old improved his RPR with every run over fences last season and looked better the further he went.
Expected to be a major player for Sandown's 3m4f Bet365 Gold Cup before a self certificate ruled him out in May, Mucho Mas looked an ideal type for that and this will be seriously hard work on the ground, which he's sure to handle. He carries just 10st 3lb and that will help in the conditions.
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.