Warren Greatrex has kept faith with Irish amateur jockey Noel McParlan for Missed Approach in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on Saturday.
The pair teamed up to win the Fulke Walwyn and Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival – but that race was restricted to amateur riders.
That was also Missed Approach’s first run since an operation on his wind, although Greatrex does not believe that made too much difference, given the eight-year-old had been running well all season.
“Some people think you get more of a reaction first time, but others think second time anyway,” said Greatrex.
“He hadn’t been running poorly before the wind op, he’d been very consistent and we always hoped he’d have his big day. There could me more to come.
“He’s in good form and obviously had a bit of a break since Cheltenham. He looks well and has been working good, although he’s never been a great work horse.
“I think the track will suit him, he’s a good jumper, Sandown seems to suit those types of horses and he should stay the trip. He ticks a lot of the right boxes.
“It’s a good pot, and it looks very competitive, as it should do, but he’s got a nice weight.”
He added: “Noel McParlan rides and this will be his biggest ride, I would say. He claims 3lb off his back, which can only help, and obviously he did nothing wrong last time, did he?”
Peter Bowen pulled a rabbit out of the hat 12 months ago when winning with Henllan Harri, and while he only made the list as a reserve this year, he is still represented by Minella Daddy.
Having missed last season through injury after a promising novice chase campaign, he has seemingly retained all his ability, despite a poor run at the Cheltenham Festival.
“I think it’s quite easy to forget his last run, as he’s simply not as good going left-handed,” said Bowen.
“He’s in good form and something like his run at Ascot in February means he ought to run well.
“He won’t mind the ground, that will be no problem at all. He missed a whole season, but he’s as good as ever.
“The trip will suit him, the track will suit him and he’s only carrying 9st 13lb as well with James’ (Bowen) claim.”
Neil Mulholland has two representatives, Carole’s Destrier, once rated as high as 152 and now running off 138, and 2016 winner The Young Master.
Both have been out of form for much of the season, but Mulholland is hoping better ground will spark them back to life.
“Carole’s Destrier is grand, the bit better ground will suit him,” he said.
“You can easily put a line through his Haydock run, he hated the ground there and last time out at Doncaster was too soft for him.
“We’ve put sheepskin pieces on him and hopefully they should help.
“The Young Master obviously got rid of Sam (Waley-Cohen) at the first last week.
“Conor Shoemark is on him as Sam can’t do the weight, but he’s won on him a couple of times before so we’ll see how he gets on.
“They both show all their old enthusiasm. The Young Master is in great order, so is Carole’s, they are both just a bit older and slower, but around there they should be fine.”
Blaklion heads the weights for Nigel Twiston-Davies after being brought down at the first in the Grand National. Twiston-Davies also runs Benbens and Bigbadjohn.
Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost team up with Present Man and the resurgent Philip Hobbs runs Rock The Kasbah. The Stuart Edmunds-trained Domesday Book, not seen since winning the Kim Muir last year, returns from injury.