SAUSALITO SUNRISE is unlikely to have many better chances of winning another handicap than he does in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
Philip Hobbs's classy 9yo is a course and distance winner over hurdles and favoured by the restricted weight range of this limited handicap.
Dropped 8lb from his career-high mark of 163 (awarded after an impressive victory at Ascot 11 months ago), he will have to give less than a stone away if, as seems likely, Colin Tizzard runs exciting French recruit Alary under top weight.
Furthermore, the race may well cut up with so many currently out of the handicap proper, making the four places for each-way betting particularly attractive.
As befits a horse with his high rating, Sausalito Sunrise has faced a stiff task on his two starts so far this season.
But those were open handicaps at Cheltenham in which he was conceding the best part of two stone on ground quicker than ideal for a strong stayer.
The gelding kept on in encouraging fashion after getting behind and hampered last time, suggesting he retains sufficient ability to be competitive off his declining mark, especially on the forecast soft ground.
Otago Trail, Bristol De Mai and Definitely Red appear on course to reprise their Rehearsal Chase clash, although the first-named may not have done his chance much good with an unsuccessful trip to Ireland over Christmas.
Pulled up on yielding ground there, Venetia Williams's gelding should at least be happier back on a more testing surface, though is 5lb higher than at Newcastle.
Definitely Red has an even higher mark to contend with (7lb) - punishment for his decisive success in the Rowland Meyrick.
Bristol De Mai didn't jump as fluently as usual in the Rehearsal and will appreciate returning to the track where he hacked up in a novice chase at this meeting last year (Otago Trail finishing a well-beaten favourite).
That was over two and a half miles, but he did well in the circumstances to finish second at Newcastle and ought to have no stamina worries over three miles on this less demanding course.
The only 'negative' is his price, having been the subject of continued support since the bookies chalked up.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Peter Marsh Chase, Haydock 21st January
1pt each way SAUSALITO SUNRISE (14-1 Skybet, Betfred, Totesports, 12-1 general )
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo.@horsetraderinfo