TETRAGON takes the eye as a potential winner of the £7,000 Norwich Union Novices Handicap Hurdle at Ayr today.

Lucinda Russell's lightly-raced five-year-old was returning from a 51-week absence at Sedgefield in February when finishing an extremely creditable third to Howard Johnson's 15-8 favourite, Top Style.

Tetragon looked a shade tubby in the parade ring beforehand, which was not surprising as he'd been away from the racecourse for the neck-end of a year.

In theory Lucinda's representative should have come on significantly fitness-wise for that run, which combined with the much faster underfoot conditions, augurs positively in his favour.

The stable also has a live chance of initiating a double in the Giles Financial Handicap Chase via Kerry Lads (4.10).

Kerry Lads regularly reserves the pick of his form for the Scottish venue, and with Peter Buchanan riding as well as any jockey on the National Hunt scene at present, the pair might just possess the ammunition to upset the near certain odds-on market leader, Harrovian.

Promising conditional jockey Doug Costello takes an invaluable 7lb off Shazal's back in the two-and-three-quarter-mile Handicap Hurdle for the James Barclay Challenge Cup.

It doesn't take a great deal of research to work out that Shazal (3.35) put in a cracking effort when second over a totally inadequate 16 furlongs at the course on her most recent outing in January.

The normally consistent eight-year-old mare has now been significantly upped in trip, an obvious option that could make all the difference in her quest to make a welcome return to the winners' enclosure.

Unless Jonjo O'Neill's Carbury Cross suddenly shakes off an attack of the blues, Sandown's feature event, the Grand Military Gold Cup, looks like a straight fight between Curtins Hill and Whitenzo, both of whom are previous course and distance winners.

Consistency hasn't always been Whitenzo's strong point, paving the way for Curtins Hill (3.15) to take the money.

Tom George's powerhouse technically has a bit to find at the official BHB weights, but he's as game as the day is long and will not give up without a fight.

The fact that Brian Ellison is prepared to trail Vanishing Dancer (2.40) all the way down from Malton to the south London venue speaks volumes for the eight-year-old's prospects in the 2-mile Thales Novices Handicap Chase.

After a long period well and truly in the doldrums, Vanishing Dancer unpredictably sprang back to life by chasing home Llanmire Tower over a similar trip at Doncaster last week.

Quite what sparked the revival is a mystery, but he had the other ten runners nicely covered and provided he maintains the return to something like his best, the gelding has serious claims with only a featherweight to shoulder.

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