A field of eight go to post for the first race of the evening card at Southwell, see our betting tips and full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: A tough competitive Chase Handicap to call. Lots of these have thrown away wins in the past and this could be a very close run thing come the finish. Elkstone has been sent off favourite 3 out of the last 4 and has not delivered. YOURHOLIDAYISOVER can be a tough horse to win with but the booking of Brian Hughes is eyecatching and he gets the nod to land a win by coming extremely late as is his nature. Code Of Law is a live threat if enjoying the drop back to 2miles, the market as ever will be a useful tool as many of these are well weighted on some of their older form.

1 STORMBAY BOMBER – The topweight in this 0-100 is having his second run for new owners today and back into Class 5 company for the first time since winning over this course & distance in May of last year off a mark of 97. He’s 3lbs higher today but could very well go close if his last spin over course and distance has blown away the cobwebs from his 8 month break. Adam Nichol rides today and his overall strike rate this season is more than respectable, operating at 19% currently. Has a fair bit to find with the re-opposing Elkstone today on their runs last time out, but could fit better for the run.

2 STRAITS OF MESSINA – Goes off 99 today, a mark which he won off over hurdles and ran quite well off a 1lb higher mark in subsequent efforts a full 2 years later, finishing second in a Class 4 on return from that break and ran well off the same mark next time out behind 2 subsequent winners who boosted the form well. Was hit with an extra 3lbs for that run and has found things very tough in Class 4 company, beaten an aggregate 167 lengths on his last 3 runs. They were all over further than today’s distance so this dropback in trip is definitely welcomed but has plenty to prove on only his second chase start.

3 ELKSTONE – Left Alan King’s a maiden late last year and hasn’t managed that elusive breakthrough in 8 attempts for his current yard, now 0-17 Caroline Bailey’s charge is becoming an expensive horse to follow for punters, sent off 10/3 favourite 4 starts back, 7/4 favoutite 2 starts back and Evens favourite last time out when he was beaten 33 lengths by Chestnut Ben but had Straits Of Messina a long way behind that day. He did show up well for a long way that day but just couldn’t match Chestnut Ben under pressure, adding another 2 to his recent form list which reads 223263. Consistent but finding that win hard to come by.

4 CODE OF LAW – A better chaser than hurdler but that still isn’t saying much as he’s another who is still waiting for that elusive breakthrough 0 from 11 so far. Finished third to Desert Sting last time out over 2m6f, hard to gauge the worth of that form as the winner was pulled up off a higher mark next time out and the second was since a bitterly disappointing favourite. Raced keenly that day from the front that day and tired but did finish second twice over 2m4f, so while this marked drop back in trip leaves him with something to prove if he can get loose he may be hard to catch.

5 TAYARAT –  Thoroughly regressive since 2014, pulled up 4 out of the last 5 times and finished the last on the other occasion. Has popped up off a mark 8lbs higher over fences than today’s mark of 90 which would leave him well treated, but the trainer will have to worked all of his magic to get him back to his best. Has went in at odds of 100/1 & 40/1 and also won twice at this course, at 25/1 on one occasion! Definite risks attached but has the ability. James Corbett takes off a useful 7lbs and his 11 month break may be just what was needed.

6 YOURHOLIDAYISOVER –  A very hard horse to win with, often failing to follow through with what looks like a good effort. Was given an absolute masterclass by Paul Moloney 3 starts back. Felix De Giles couldn’t quite get him home next time out off 8lbs higher despite playing him extremely late and getting the lead on the run in he just refused to battle. His last run wasn’t as encouraging but under Brian Hughes and off a workable mark if played to absolute perfection he could well get another win.

7 NO NO CARDINAL – Banging on the door firmly recently with form figures of 22234. Only beaten a short head off this mark last time out the handicapper is giving him every chance of going close. Not quite as tricky a character as Yourholidayisover but looks to just lack that turn of foot to get him home. A slight negative from his last performance was that he had bettered the winner 2 races ago but couldn’t confirm that on even better terms. Another who should be on the premises.

8 NEXT EXIT – Hasn’t shown much at all this year and has went off triple figure on plenty of occasions over the past 2 years. Did manage a win off 2lbs lower last year turning the tables on his conqueror from the race before but showed nothing like that form when the rematch came along and hasn’t gone close since that. Unseated rider last time out and looks set to struggle.

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