Faith in God's Own can be rewarded
It is a big day at Exeter today where God's Own is taken to win the Sportingbet Haldon Gold Cup Chase for a second consecutive year.
Tom George's likeable chaser has a lot more weight than when he readily accounted for Balder Succes 12 months ago.
He was, though, technically a novice 12 months ago so there is every chance the six-year-old can make even more considerable gains this winter.
Runner-up behind Un De Sceaux in the Arkle before occupying the same position at Aintree, his class is there for all to see.
Sire De Grugy is obviously a worthy foe, but God's Own gets 7lb off Gary Moore's star, who was uncharacteristically all at sea towards the end of last season.
The likelihood of cut in the ground should also hold no terrors for a horse who proved at Exeter last year that he goes well fresh.
Alan King has high hopes for Yanworth this season and he is likely to take high-rank among the novice hurdlers given his form in bumpers last season.
Last season finishing a fairly close-up fourth to Moon Racer in the championship event at Cheltenham, he should be even better with a few obstacles in the way.
He faces far from a penalty kick against Dan Skelton's Welsh Shadow but the greater experience Yanworth possesses should see him make a winning seasonal return in the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novices' Hurdle
Schottische rates a mildly confident selection in division one of the Ladbrokes Handicap at Southwell.
The five-year-old mare is a bit of an up-and-down operator, but she turned in a nice enough performance at Wolverhampton last month to suggested her turn is near.
Despite having been completely dismissed in the market, Alan Bailey's resident capably outran his 20-1 starting price to dead-heat for third in an eight-and-a-half-furlong handicap.
Robert Winston had to come wide to get a clean run that day, so the combination did particularly well to finish in the money.
The form, too, has been given a little fillip as the horse that crossed the line in unison with Schottische, Thermal Column, promptly won at Wolverhampton a week later.
Even in spite of that good, staying-on effort, the handicapper has decided to relieve her of another 1lb, which puts the daughter of Pastoral Pursuits on a 2lb lower mark than when she last won over course and distance in January.
On a difficult day for Flat fans, she probably has as good a chance as any horse running at the Nottinghamshire venue.
Foreign Diplomat perhaps holds the key to the Bet Now With The Ladbrokes App Handicap at Wolverhampton while Arrowzone's Pontefract second puts him squarely in the firing line for the Watch Racing UK With Free Trial Handicap at Redcar.
The four-year-old gelding, trained by David Barron, enjoyed the step back up in trip at the West Yorkshire circuit and is well worth following on ground that should be in his favour.
EXETER: 1.20 Westren Warrior, 1.50 Yanworth, 2.20 GOD'S OWN (NAP), 2.50 Southfield Vic, 3.20 Whats Left, 3.50 Monbeg Gold, 4.20 Duke's Affair.
REDCAR: 12.30 Eljeemi, 1.00 Je T'Aime Encore, 1.30 Sacred Bond, 2.00 Arrowzone, 2.30 Piccadilly Jim, 3.00 Crakehall Lad, 3.30 Dew Pond, 4.00 Poolstock.
SOUTHWELL: 12.40 Schottische, 1.10 El Duque, 1.40 New Lease Of Life, 2.10 Romancingthestone, 2.40 North Spirit, 3.10 Brassbound, 3.40 Layline, 4.10 Carrabamababe.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 4.40 Outback Blue, 5.10 Foreign Diplomat, 5.40 Broughtons Berry, 6.10 Jassur, 6.40 Loyalty, 7.10 Jumbo Prado, 7.40 Duke Of Dunton.
DOUBLE: Schottische and God's Own.