CHELTENHAM might be done and dusted for another year, but the show goes on in style.
Flat fans finally welcome in the start of their season at Doncaster, while the Irish Grand National builds up to the big one at Aintree on April 10.
Unibet Lincoln – Doncaster, Sat 27th March
Doncaster's big betting heat always welcomes in the Flat season and has again attracted a solid field.
The market leaders Eastern World, Haqeeqy and Brentford Hope all have very obvious claims and would fit in with recent trends of progressive, less-exposed horses taking the £50,000 first prize.
But at a slightly bigger 10-1, Danyah has to be worth a flyer for the Owen Burrows stable.
He goes best fresh and won at this track on his first start last summer. This is plenty tougher, but he's on the up and could have more to offer off his current mark.
Irish Grand National – Fairyhouse, Mon 5th April
The entries aren't out for the big one at Fairyhouse just yet – but that means you can sneak a bit of extra value if you think you're on to one.
I'm willing to take a swing on Festival runner-up Farclas who only found the well-handicapped The Shunter too good in the Plate.
Aintree is unlikely to be on his agenda and this lesser test of stamina should be up his street.
At only seven, he's still progressing over fences and if the ground comes up on the quicker side he won't mind a minute.
At 16-1 he's worth an each-way play at this stage.
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Randox Grand National – Aintree, Sat 10th April
Three days of high class action on Merseyside culminates in the race that stops a nation.
There will be no Tiger Roll despite his ridiculous Cheltenham Festival win and in Cloth Cap, the race already has a red-hot favourite at a best-priced 5-1.
But for a race like this, you want something at a juicier price and available at 100-1 in a place, and 80 and 66-1 elsewhere, Ballyoptic looks wildly over-priced.
He was strongly fancied before last year's race was canned and wasn't much bigger than 20-1 in the build-up.
The yard thought he would go very close and although his form has declined since, he's lower in the weights and all year would have had this race in mind.
He will need some rain beforehand, but with three weeks to go we can hope for that. He's gone well in the race before and experience over the Aintree fences is often key.
Things need to fall into place for him to go close, but at such a big price you just have to take a chance antepost.
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