Warthog can taste Cheltenham caviar success
Warthog hit the bar at Cheltenham last month, but he can gain rich compensation in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase.
David Pipe's charge had to settle for third in the BetVictor Gold Cup, beaten just over eight lengths, with a lack of match practice finding him out a bit in the closing stages.
Returning from a 249-day lay-off, and having his first outing since wind surgery, Warthog raced prominently before being headed at the second-last and keeping on at the one pace up the Cheltenham hill.
Having previously run in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, Warthog appeared to relish a significant drop back in trip to the same extended two and a half miles he faces here and, left alone by the handicapper, a repeat performance should see him in the shake-up again.
Valtor looks like one for Nicky Henderson in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, after making a winning start over the smaller obstacles at Ascot last month.
The 10-year-old had been off the track since finishing well down the field in the Grand National, but clearly thrived for his move to the smaller obstacles as he dug deep to win by a couple of lengths.
He has had a bit of an unorthodox route to this point, but Henderson clearly thinks it is worth persevering in this sphere.
Mister Fisher can also oblige for the Seven Barrows team in the Ryman Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.
The five-year-old looked a top-class novice hurdler in the making after winning at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Grade Two Rossington Main at Haydock last season, but was ultimately well-beaten in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and subsequently in the Swinton Hurdle.
However, there was not a lot wrong with his runner-up finish behind Torpillo on his fencing debut at Warwick last month - and that form was well boosted after the third home Lisp bolted up at Plumpton recently.
Elixir De Nutz is worth a chance in the Unibet International Hurdle as he returns from a lengthy break.
Winner of the Tolworth last term, a late setback ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival, but he is thought of as a Champion Hurdle horse and can start making up for lost time now.
Sam Spinner should be the star of the show at Doncaster as he steps up to Grade Two level in the bet365 December Novices' Chase.
A Grade One scorer over hurdles, he has made a seamless transition in discipline, wining each of his two chasing starts to date.
First Flow chased home the exciting Angels Breath on his latest outing at Ascot and should find the Courage Directors Bitter Novices' Chase at Hereford an easier task.
Mildenberger can regain his best form stepped up to two miles at Newcastle in the Betway Conditions Stakes.
He has chased home the likes of Roaring Lion and Stradivarius in the past without being disgraced and he can surely only make positive progress for his recent return at Kempton.
Running over 12 furlongs at the start of the month, he did not have the pace to go with the field when the race began in earnest but the outing - his first since claiming third in the Yorkshire Cup - should have brought him on.
CHELTENHAM: 12.10 Langer Dan, 12.45 Mister Fisher, 1.20 Ballywood, 1.55 WARTHOG (NAP), 2.30 Valtor, 3.05 Elixir De Nutz, 3.40 Misty Bloom.
DONCASTER: 11.50 Kajaki, 12.25 Logan Rocks, 1.00 Sky Pirate, 1.35 Irish Roe, 2.10 Sam Spinner, 2.45 Lord Lamington, 3.20 My Old Gold.
FAIRYHOUSE: 12.30 Instant Return, 1.05 Fight For Love, 1.40 Monkfish, 2.15 Robin Deuz Pois, 2.50 Kayf Thou, 3.25 Hollow Moon.
HEREFORD: 12.00 One Style, 12.35 Shantou Vow, 1.10 Heavenly Promise, 1.45 First Flow, 2.20 Burrows Park, 2.55 Another Frontier, 3.30 Full Spes.
NEWCASTLE: 12.15 Yamato, 12.50 Mildenberger, 1.25 Finespun, 2.00 Traditional Dancer, 2.35 Desert Flyer, 3.10 Aljari, 3.45 Rockley Point.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 4.50 Rocking Reg, 5.20 Monya, 5.50 Merricourt, 6.20 Phoenix Star, 6.50 Desert Doctor, 7.20 Sir Gnet, 7.50 Storm Ahead, 8.20 Cheng Gong.
DOUBLE: Warthog and Mildenberger.