The weather may have claimed two excellent cards on the flat at Doncaster and Newbury, but there's still plenty of racing to get stuck into before the weekend's action kicks off.
Racing returns at Cheltenham this afternoon and Milkwood looks to hold sound each-way claims in the concluding Abu Dhabi Digital Markets Handicap Hurdle (5.35).
Neil Mulholland's charge may be nine making his first outing for 188 days, but he has pieces of form when fresh and looks too well-handicapped to ignore off a mark of 134.
Good ground, which he will get this afternoon, is absolutely key to him running well and there's every chance this race will be run to suit with a good pace likely upfront. A smart hurdler in his day, the son of Dylan Thomas finished third in the County Hurdle here back in 2021 before going on to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr next-time-out, a performance that earned him a mark of 147.
It's probably fair to say he's not the force of old but a rating of 134 on perfect ground is too tempting to resist. The booking of proclaimed hold-up rider Richard Mclernon, who gets onboard for the first time, catches the eye and with firms offering up to five places each-way, he should have every chance of finding the frame at a double-figure price.
Selection: Milkwood – General 12/1
Heads turn to the all-weather for our last two selections. Across the Irish Sea, Dundalk hosts eight races featuring the Group 3 Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Pat Smullen Mercury Stakes at 7.00, where I'm quite sweet on the class-dropping Bouttemont.
The French raider has some solid form at the top level and somewhat caught the eye when down the field after a troubled run in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp last month.
He won a Newcastle All-Weather Championship event over six furlongs back in April 2022 so will have no issues with this surface (3-6 on the AW) and has the services of top Irish jockey Dylan-Brown McMonagle.
An official rating of 109 gives him a bit to spare and from the perfect draw in stall four, I'm expecting the Yann Barberot-trained five-year-old to take some beating and make the trip across from France worthwhile.
Selection: Bouttemont – General 5/2