Having made an impressive winning start for Nigel Twiston-Davies, Riders Onthe Storm looks a worthy 13/8 favourite with William Hill to follow-up in the 2m 5f Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase at Ascot on Saturday (13:15).
This six-year-old had some decent form to his name In Ireland last season when trained by Tom Taaffe.
After finishing a highly promising not knocked about fourth to Mengli Khan at Punchestown on chasing debut, he shaped far better than the bare result suggests when weakening late on to finish a 22-length third of seven to Hardline in a Grade 1 at Limerick.
Hardline is now rated 161, while the runner-up Getabird is very highly regarded and rated 151.
That gives the form a solid look, and Riders OntheStorm went on to score at Punchestown in good style when readily beating Impact Factor by 1 1/4 lengths.
He was allotted an opening handicap mark of 140 on the back of those three runs and fancied by many for the Close Brothers at the Cheltenham Festival.
Riders Onthe Storm got no further than the third, then failed to shine when pulled-up at Fairyhouse.
He was then purchased by Carl Finchy and Mark Scott and easily accounted for Cepage by just under two lengths in a decent handicap chase at Aintree last month.
The runner-up has since finished a fine fourth in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, whilst the third home Oldgrangewood has also won since. That form sets the standard in this.
Riders Onthe Storm had been ante post favourite for the Casoian Caviar only to be ruled out by a clerical error.
That may well have been a blessing in disguise and he is strongly fancied to take this at Ascot en route to better things.
First Flow weighted to strike at Ascot on handicap debut
First Flow is a strong fancy to cash-on in what looks a lenient mark and land the spoils in the 2m 2f Plymouth Gin Handicap Chase (13:50).
Trained by Kim Bailey, this seven-year-old developed into a smart hurdler last season when winning three of his five starts.
In the last of those on heavy ground at Haydock, he only had to be ridden clear to easily beat Midnight Shadow by 10 lengths in the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle.
First Flow then failed to shine when pulled-up in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival, but then ran much better when fifth of 13 to Malaya in the Grade 3 Imperial Cup at Sandown off a rating of 144.
He then had his attentions switched to chasing at the start of this season and ran very well on debut over the larger obstacles when a four-length runner-up to Summerville Boy at Uttoxeter.
First Flow then chased home Angels Breath at Ascot, when beaten eight lengths, and that one is an exciting prospect who strolled to a facile success here yesterday off an official rating of 151.
The son of Primary then gained a deserved success last time out at Hereford when making all to score by 20 lengths and now makes his handicap chase debut off a rating of 140.
That could seriously underestimate First Flow’s ability, given the strength of the aforementioned races. He thus looks well worth a wager at 7/2 with Ladbrokes here.
March Is On appeals each-way in opener
In the extended 2m 7f handicap hurdle that gets proceedings underway on a cracking six-race card (12:40), March Is On makes plenty of each-way appeal at the 5/1 on offer with Bethard.
This six-year-old won an Irish point when trained by Cormac Doyle and beating Clondaw Anchor by six lengths.
The runner-up has since won a novice hurdle off an official rating of 127 and the third home Reikers Island has in a Listed chase off 140.
March Is On then joined Jonjo O’Neill and shaped with some promise in his first four starts over hurdles without ever really getting competitive.
However, there was much more to like about his run at Warwick 12 months ago when a half-length second of 13 to Daydream Aulmes off a mark of 103, where he pressed the winner after the last until being unable to find any extra close home.
Although then disappointing next time up when sent off favourite, March Is On showed that running to be all wrong on seasonal reappearance at Southwell in October when scoring by three lengths from Fontkey House.
After being held-up out wide by Adrian Heskin, he made stealthy headway on the outside two from home and once taking up the running approaching the last kept on strongly to win going away at the line.
March Is On scored with plenty in hand and has since run well to finish fourth of 12 to Good And Hardy – a winner again since – at Chepstow.
He appeals as the type to go on progressing, so a career-high mark of 118 should not be beyond March Is On and a bold bid to get back to winning ways at Ascot looks assured.