Le Breuil shaped really well last time out, so having been eased in the weights looks decent value at 8/1 with 888Sport to land the 3m 5f Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on Saturday (15:00).
This Ben Pauling trained eight-year-old developed into a smart novice chaser last season when winning twice and posting some really solid efforts in defeat.
They included when runner-up to Count Meribel at Cheltenham, and a fine staying on 7 1/4 lengths third to subsequent RSA Chase runner-up and Gold Cup hope Santini in a Grade 2 at Newbury.
Le Breuil went on to enjoy his finest hour at the Cheltenham Festival when running out an ultra-game winner of the extended 3m 7f National Hunt Chase off an official rating of 145.
In what turned out to be a real war of attrition, the son of Anxillero fought back tenaciously to beat Discorama by half-a-length.
The front two pulled 47 lengths clear of the third home, Jerrysback, so that gives the form a good look.
Booking of promising claimer Morgan a plus
Le Breuil then failed to shine on seasonal reappearance when pulled-up in a Grade 2 hurdle contest at Wetherby, but quickly left that run behind when switched back to fences and finishing seventh of 18 to Walk In The Mill in the Grade 3 Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree off a mark of 150.
He made headway to hold every chance two from home, before being unable to find an extra from the elbow on the long run-in to be beaten just under 20 lengths.
It was a big step back in the right direction. Le Breuil now meets the runner-up Kimberlite Candy on 5lb better terms and looks sure to appreciate the step back up in trip.
He is also able to race in this off 2lb lower, so a revised rating of 148 looks exploitable on the pick of his form.
Promising young rider Luca Morgan also takes off a handy 7lb with his claim, while Le Breuil has proven form on the forecast soft ground and no stamina issues.
He looks primed to run a big race in the Classic Handicap Chase, despite having to shoulder top-weight, so makes plenty of appeal at the odds on offer.
The Conditional holds solid claims
The Conditional comes into the race right at the top of his game and, after a cracking second last time out, looks sure to make a bold bid to go one better and get back to winning ways.
This eight-year-old ran some decent races last year when trained in Ireland, but has taken his form to a new level this season since joining David Bridgwater.
After shaping with promise when third at Worcester, The Conditional showed a game attitude to get the better of West Approach by 1 3/4 lengths in a competitive 16-runner class 2 handicap at Cheltenham in October off a mark of 131.
The runner-up, and the third home Cogry, both won decent contests next time up – so that gives the form a solid look.
It was a most taking success and The Conditional has since run a stormer off 6lb higher when runner-up to De Rasher Counter in the valuable and prestigious Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy over 3m 2f at Newbury.
The son of Kalanisi jumped and travelled well throughout on the heels of the leaders and stuck to the task really well after the last to go down all guns blazing by 1 1/2 lengths.
This was a cracking effort by The Conditional and the race traditionally throws-up a whole host of subsequent winners.
He has been raised 5lb for it and now runs off a career-high mark of 142, but the Classic Handicap Chase is far less competitive and he is clearly on an upward curve.
The Conditional thus rates the main danger to Le Breuil and can be backed at 9/2 with Paddy Power.
Kimberlite Candy another key Classic Handicap Chase player
The aforementioned Kimberlite Candy is another who looks well worth considering – despite now having to race off a career-high mark.
This Tom Lacey trained eight-year-old ran a cracker at Aintree on seasonal reappearance when sticking to the task well to be beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Walk In The Mill in the Becher off a rating of 137.
He now has to race off 140, but that is just 1lb higher than when he was sent off favourite for last year’s Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle when far from disgraced in finishing fifth of 16 to Crosspark.
This JP McManus owned son of Flemnsfirth travelled really strongly for much of that 4m test until being unable to find any extra from the second last.
The 3m 5f trip of this may well prove ideal, judged on that – and his latest effort at Aintree – and Kimberlite Candy still has an air of unfinished business about him.
Lacey has also been back among the winners of late and boasts an excellent strike rate of 28.5 per cent with his runners at Warwick in the last 12 months.
Richie McLernon also gets a good tune out of Kimberlite Candy, while another plus is the gelding should get his ideal underfoot conditions.
There is nothing not to like about his profile for this, so Betfred go a best-price 6/1 about Kimberlite Candy landing the spoils.