A classy renewal looks in prospect and those who have been able to chat with Paul Nicholls on his media day will be fully aware of just how well regarded Zarkandar (5/2) is at Ditcheat and he may well make a winning return here after well over a year off. He has mixed form with Un Temps Pour Tout having finished in front of him at Cheltenham but behind him at Auteuil, but is pretty lightly raced for his age and with the yard in quite ridiculous form he can win here under the excellent Sean Bowen and start his seasoon with a bang.
An interesting sub plot involving David Pipe’s Un Temps Pour Tout (11/4) who reverts to hurdles here after running over fences for his last five starts which include a win at Cheltenham in the Ultima Handicap Chase last March. Sixth to Cole Harden in the 2015 World Hurdle he clearly stays a lot further than this two and a half miles so stamina is not an issue, while Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth took this last season so he would not be breaking the mould if he wins on his return to the smaller obstacles here.
Although he may not seem to be the first string, at these weights Nicky Henderson’s other entry Vyta Du Roc (13/2) is the better of the pair though he is another returning from a stint over fences. His trainer proved he knew what was needed with Bobs Worth last season but again, he has been running over much further and was fifth when last seen at Ayr in the Scottish national over four mile so whether he will have the pace to deal with some of these over this trip seems open to question.
Dan Skelton seems sure to partner up with Harry Skelton in the saddle once again with Mister Miyagi (3/1) who was behind Hargam at Kempton but meets that rival on eight pounds better terms for three and three quarter lengths and ought to really turn that around this afternoon. He may well strip a bit fitter now as well as that was his first run in six months and he could yet be an interesting each way option.
With Rebecca Curtis firing in the winners again this season maybe Beast Of Burden (28/1) will do better than the ratings suggest he will, and with race fitness on his side he may go better than his odds imply. Beaten a long way at Ffos Las over fences in mid-October after some horrendous jumping errors he may well be a lot happier back over hurdles and although he has plenty to find, if there is a shock then he may provide it under jockey find Jonathan Moore.