Flyer set to soar in Scotland
Nick Robson provides a selection for every race on Sunday, with Overland Flyer fancied to win at Musselburgh.
MUSSELBURGH: 1.40 Burbank, 2.10 Frodon, 2.40 Peter The Mayo Man, 3.10 San Benedeto, 3.40 OVERLAND FLYER (NAP), 4.10 El Bandit, 4.40 Beyond The Clouds.
PUNCHESTOWN: 1.30 Sire Du Berlais, 2.00 Carrig Cathal, 2.30 Ballyboker Bridge, 3.00 Douvan, 3.30 Be The Hero, 4.00 Canaly, 4.30 Clitandre.
TAUNTON: 1.50 Volpone Jelois, 2.20 Aliandy, 2.50 Hint Of Mint, 3.20 Big Windmill, 3.50 Willow's Saviour, 4.20 Warriors Tale, 4.50 Scales.
DOUBLE: Overland Flyer and El Bandit.
Overland Flyer was thoroughly impressive on his British bow at Taunton last month and can follow up in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Novices' Hurdle at Musselburgh.
The six-year-old is in the frame for the big one at the Festival and victory here would surely see Paul Nicholls' runner slashed in price for the three-mile heat.
Winner of two of his three point-to-point outings, Overland Flyer was allowed to go off at the generous odds of 3-1 in the west country and he made a mockery of that price as he strolled home by 22 lengths without having to get anywhere near top gear.
This is obviously a bigger test of his abilities, but Overland Flyer is hard to oppose on what he has shown so far.
Stablemate El Bandit is another who seems to thrive in sound conditions so he should be given a chance to redeem himself in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle after disappointing last time.
He won five on the bounce between April and October last year, including the Grade Two Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow.
However, tried at handicap level off a seemingly reasonable mark of 139 at Newbury's Hennessy meeting, El Bandit was never even really in contention as he finished seventh on what was his first try over three miles.
It would be easy to think he just did not stay the longer trip that day, but the soft going he encountered there would hardly have been ideal given his proven aptitude for quicker ground.
While he has to prove his stamina, El Bandit is worth giving another chance as a class horse in a handicap field.
Peter The Mayo Man can return from a short break to make it four wins on the spin in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices' Hurdle.
Neil Mulholland's runner clearly reserves his better efforts for good ground, as evidenced by his victories at Worcester and Warwick in September and Newbury at the beginning of November.
That last win was particularly eyecatching as he ran out an 11-length winner over more accomplished rivals on what was his handicap bow.
Peter The Mayo Man looks as though he can rank higher than just handicap company, and this event should provide a good test for his Festival hopes.
Willow's Saviour can be the star of the show at Taunton by landing the Bathwick Tyres Seniors' Handicap Hurdle.
Winner of The Ladbroke in 2013, the 10-year-old was then off the track for nearly two years before embarking on a moderately successful chase campaign last term.
Back over hurdles this season, Willow's Saviour has struggled to make his mark in competitive heats but this looks an excellent opportunity to get back on the winning track.
At Punchestown, it is all about racegoers getting the opportunity to see Douvan in action in the Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase.
Unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins, he is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle.
This season's Queen Mother Champion Chase looks at his mercy and he will be having no more than a tune-up here.