Kilfilum Cross has some strong form in the book, so having shaped with promise on seasonal reappearance looks the one to be on in the Listed 3m Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle on Saturday (15:20).
This eight-year-old showed some fair form when a dual winner over hurdles and trained by Kim Bailey.
After joining Henry Oliver, he opened his account over fences at the third time of asking when beating Ulan Bute by a neck in game fashion in a 2m chase at Ludlow.
That victory saw Kilfilum Cross sent off a well-backed 7/1 shot for the 3m 2f Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.
The son of Beneficial ran a stormer to finish a 3 3/4 lengths second of 23 to handicap blot Any Second Now off a mark of 139.
After racing prominently, Kilfilum Cross lost his place four from home when the pace quickened.
He then rallied strongly to take up the lead round the home turn and was unable to find any extra in the last 100 yards once he got headed.
He then failed to shine when a well-beaten fourth of nine to Molly The Dolly at Ayr, but that race may well have come too quickly following a hard race at the home of jumps racing.
There was certainly lots to like about his recent run over 2m 1f at Stratford following 201 days on the sidelines when keeping on well from off the pace to be nearest and a 4 1/2 lengths third of 12 to Rocco.
That looked the perfect pipe-opener for this, and far better can be expected from Kilfilum Cross now stepped back up significantly in trip.
He appears to have been laid out for this by his shrewd handler. Judged on his fine run in the Kim Muir, a mark of 142 should not be beyond Kiliflum Cross.
Jockey David Crosse also gets a great tune out of him, having won twice and been placed twice in six starts, and underfoot conditions are ideal.
So, taking everything into account, there is nothing not to like about the profile of Kilfilum Cross for this and he can be backed at 7/2 with Betway to land this valuable prize.
Jonniesofa feared most in Rehearsal Handicap Chase
In a race where a case can be made for most of the nine runners, Jonniesofa rates the main danger following a runaway success last time out.
This Rose Dobbin trained nine-year-old had some smart hurdles form to his name in 2016 when winning three times, and looked an exciting chasing prospect when scoring by 1 1/2 lengths on debut over the larger obstacles at Carlisle in October 2017.
Jonniesofa then ran well-below par when sent off odds-on and beaten 36 lengths when runner-up to Lastbutnotleast at Haydock, but suffered a bad injury which resulted in his spending 672 days on the sidelines.
However, the perseverance by connections looked to be well worthwhile when the son of Well Made overcame that monster lay-off at Ayr earlier in the month to slam Blkerigg by 15 lengths.
Jonniesofa drew effortlessly clear after the third last and was heavily eased down on the run-in, so was value for even more than the winning margin.
It was a performance which showed he retained bags of talent, so an 8lb rise looks fair.
The big question now is whether Jonniesofa can back that up just 28 days later, or whether he will “bounce” with the race coming to soon.
If it doesn’t, then a big run looks on the cards and Jonniesofa is an 11/2 shot with Paddy Power to go in again.
Course specialist Lake View Lad a likeable sort
Last year’s Rehearsal Handicap Chase winner Lake View Lad is back to defend his crown and, given his excellent course form, is another with claims despite having to shoulder top weight of 11st 12lb.
Trained by Neil Alexander, this nine-year-old has won three times and been placed once in for starts at this venue.
He took his form to a new level last season, staying on strongly to land this going away by 2 3/4 lengths from Captain Chaos, then readily defied an 8lb rise in the weights to beat the same rival by four lengths in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby.
Lake View Lad got put up another 8lb for that taking success, but ran a stormer off his revised rating of 155 when keeping on to finish a 3 1/4 lengths third of 24 to Beware The Bear in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was then always behind after a slow start in the Grand National at Aintree, before being eventually pulled-up after the 27th fence.
Lake View Lad can be excused that run and now returns to the fray off just a 1lb higher mark than his fine effort in the Ultima.
It makes the son of Oscar foolish to rule out at his favourite stomping ground, especially as he has a good record fresh.
At 11/2 with Bethard, Lake View Lad is thus another well worth considering in a wide-open looking renewal of the Rehearsal Handicap Chase.