An interesting card at Wincanton supports the ITV action at Sandown and Robbie Wilders from the Racing Post supplies three bets.
Messire Des Obeaux @ 7/2
Another Crick @ 9/2
Chianti Classico @ 4/7
Any of the six runners contesting the 2m4f handicap chase (1.30) can be given some sort of chance and Messire Des Obeaux might be the answer to roll back the years as an 11-year-old on his seasonal return.
Messire Des Obeaux has been an extremely fragile sort as he has only raced six times since April 2017, but his class is beyond doubt and the handicapper has given him a real chance off a mark of 140 on his first start since December 2021 - 12lb lower than his BHA rating just three runs ago.
The absence is of minimal concern as he has won first-time out off huge breaks twice in the past and it makes sense for in-form trainer Alan King to have this veteran fully revved up for his comeback.
A striking case can also be made due to Messire Des Obeaux's Wincanton form. He is two from two over the course and distance on contrasting ground conditions, including an impressive near-five-length defeat of Protektorat, who has gone on to achieve great things.
There are several likeable old-timers set to grace the Wincanton turf and Another Crick is another with sound claims in the 1m7½f handicap chase (2.05).
The ten-year-old landed this off 3lb higher last season and, if anything, arrives in better form than he did prior to his 2022 success.
Another Crick shaped better than the winning distance suggested when third on heavy ground at Lingfield in December and has come down another 2lb for that effort.
My selection always takes a run or two to get into full stride and can strike for trainer Noel Williams if the first-time blinkers have the desired effect.
The two who head the betting, Desque De L'Isle and Interne De Sivola, make limited appeal at the prices.
Desque De L'Isle was beaten fair and square in this last season under a promising 10lb claimer and reopposes off much worse terms with Another Crick, while Interne De Sivola is yet to produce a performance that matches anywhere close with his 123 BHA rating on Racing Post Ratings.
Of all the fancies I have on the day across Wincanton and Sandown, Chianti Classico would be the most confident of those in the 2m5½f handicap hurdle (3.15).
That is hardly a controversial statement as Chianti Classico is now into odds-on for this assignment, but that is due to key market rival Jubilee Express's absence.
Chianti Classico's task is made far more straightforward by that one's withdrawal and it would be of little surprise if my selection was tackling one of the Grade 1 novice hurdles at Aintree later in the season.
He is unbeaten after two impressive hurdle successes and his initial victory over smart bumper performer Henri The Second is red-hot form.
Henri The Second since ran out an easy winner of the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown and a mark of 131 surely underestimates Chianti Classico on his handicap debut.
It is interesting trainer Kim Bailey is willing to go via this route and it is equally as difficult to fancy any of his opponents.