DUTCH MASTERPIECE can confirm himself a sprinter of note at Newbury's opening meeting of the Flat season today by defying top weight on his first outing of 2014.
Trained by Gary Moore, the four-year-old looked a horse going places last term when he won two handicaps and followed-up in Group 3 company in Ireland.
His final start was in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbeye at Longchamp in October and although he failed to finish in the placings, he was beaten only six lengths by Maarek, the winner.
Dutch Masterpiece looks capable of bagging a notable sprinting prize or two this year and this handicap looks an ideal starting point to his campaign. With the easy ground in his favour, he is napped to make a winning reappearance.
Ryan Moore, pictured, rider of Dutch Masterpiece, also teams up with father Gary in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap over two miles.
Leo Luna had only one Flat outing last year, an unplaced effort on the all-weather, but the five-year-old is a 133-rated hurdler and is fit from racing over timber. A bold bid looks likely.
Moore rides for Richard Hannon in the opening Al Basti Equiworld Maiden Stakes and given the trainer's record at this venue, particularly in juvenile events such as this, Crafty Choice, who represents the pair, merits plenty of respect.
Sir Micheal Stoute brings Snow Sky out in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup Conditions Stakes and much attention will be paid to James Doyle's mount.
Although he failed to fire in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on his final start of last season, Snow Sky had looked an exciting proposition when winning a maiden by 11 lengths at Salisbury on his penultimate outing.
Paul Hanagan, wearing the colours of his retaining owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, has some interesting mounts at Newbury. The former Malton jockey teams-up with Muwaary (3.40), a winner of his only juvenile start on this course, and well-bred newcomer Wojha (4.45) in the first of a trio of three-year-old maidens.
At Ayr, on the first day of the Scottish Grand National meeting, Nicky Henderson, who was leading trainer at last week's Aintree Festival, can pick up where he left off by saddling the first winner on the card.
The Lambourn handler is represented by Sign Of A Victory in the West Sound Novices' Hurdle and Barry Geraghty mount promises to be hard to beat.
Although he faces a couple of formidable rivals here, Sign Of A Victory has looked a rock-solid performer lately, wining by ten lengths at Doncaster and six at Newbury on his latest outing three weeks ago.
Alan King, another trainer who enjoyed a successful time of things at Aintree, will be especially keen to figure among the winners at Ayr, which is near to where he was born and raised.
King has several good chances and it is far from a remote possibility that he could land a treble.
In the Abbot Risk Consulting Novices' Handicap Hurdle, King runs Ulzana's Risk, who looked a horse going the right way when winning at Warwick last month. He looks on a nice mark of 128 for his handicap bow.
Bless The Wings has been struggling to find winning form this season, but he has been taking on some pretty stiff opposition and the drop in class to the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase should be to his benefit. He is not one to underestimate.
King can also have a useful say with Dundee, a well-named horse for a Scottish raid. He has yet to win in five attempts over hurdles, but there has been no lack of credit in some of his efforts, most notably when he finished second in a competitive race at Newbury three weeks ago. He can finally get his head in front.
2.00 Crafty Choice, 2.30 Leo Luna, 3.05 Snow Sky, 3.40 Muwaary, 4.15 Dutch Masterpiece (NAP), 4.45 Wojha, 5.15 Bright Approach, 5.45 Casual Smile.
2.10 Sign Of A Victory, 2.40 Just Cameron, 3.15 Ulzana’s Raid, 3.50 Bless The Wings, 4.25 Le Bacardy, 4.55 Bull And Bush, 5.25 Dundee.
Today’s other meetings: Fontwell and Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Ayr, Newbury, Bangor, Thirsk and Wolverhampton.