Newbury takes centre stage on ITV3 on Friday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway returns with his best bets for the first day of a fantastic Winter Festival at the Berkshire track.
The 2m4f handicap chase (2.30) looks competitive at first glance, but several of the runners aren't reliable and it might pay to stick with course-and-distance winner Paint The Dream.
The top-weight saves his best form for galloping tracks like Newbury and couldn't have been more impressive when running away with the Greatwood Gold Cup here eight months ago.
Paint The Dream has competed in some hot races since. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree last season and ran well in another strong contest on his last run.
That was in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, when he came up against red-hot King George favourite Bravemansgame and subsequent Betfair Chase runner-up Eldorado Allen, and he was beaten only just over 13 lengths. There will be nothing of their quality lining up against him in this.
He probably found the 3m trip stretching his stamina that day and the return to shorter, at one of his favourite tracks, should do the trick for this consistent and likeable eight-year-old.
Champ and Paisley Park will be popular in the Long Distance Hurdle (3.05), but both are rising 11 and might be vulnerable to a younger contender. Proschema has yet to convince me as a stayer and Dashel Drasher wants softer going, so maybe Tea Clipper can cause an upset.
Tom Lacey and Stan Sheppard excel with stayers and Tea Clipper has form over fences that suggests he might be capable of competing in this company, if he can transfer it to hurdling.
His impressive chasing debut victory at Chepstow last season was one of the best novice performances of the last campaign and he returned to something like his best form when third in a hot handicap at Ascot last time. He finished a close third in that event carrying 11st 11lb.
Tea Clipper saves his best form for good going and could run into a place at a huge price.
I've been waiting for Didtheyleaveuoutto to cash in on a workable mark for a while and he won't find a better opportunity than when lining up in the 3m handicap hurdle (3.40).
The Nick Gifford-trained nine-year-old was in good form on the Flat over the summer and he has run two solid races in defeat since being returned to hurdles on good ground this autumn.
Didtheyleaveuoutto did all his best work late when third to subsequent Elite Hurdle winner Knappers Hill at Chepstow in October, shaping like the 2m3½f trip was on the short side.
He was stepped up to 3m over course and distance last time and again ran well when pulling 12 lengths clear of the fourth to finish third behind Champagne Court and Risk And Roll.
Gifford switches the cheekpieces he wore last time for first-time blinkers and doesn't use that headgear often. Maybe the change can help Didtheyleaveuoutto snap a ten-race losing streak.