Eric Alston has already been on the mark with Piccled and Johnston's Diamond in sprints in the first few weeks of the turf season.

His Charlie Parkes can carry on the good work by taking the Hambleton Classified Stakes over his optimum trip of five furlongs at Thirsk this afternoon.

Alston's five-year-old has the plum draw next to the stands rail and also has the foot to make full use of it. He has a good chance at the weights and will relish today's fast conditions.

The quick ground should also suit Karl Burke's Golden Brief, who bids to follow up last year's win in the Sinderby Handicap over his best trip of seven furlongs.

There's every reason to think he could be fairly treated back on turf from a mark of 60 as he's improved to the tune of over a stone on the Polytrack this winter.

Although his double figure draw isn't ideal, he has bags of early foot to get a decent position and he's taken to beat Weet A Round, who is from the in-form yard of Paul Blockley.

On the first day of the Scottish National meeting at Ayr, Florries Son looks very interesting back in handicap company in the Albert Bartlett And Sons Ltd Handicap Hurdle over two miles and six furlongs.

Martin Todhunter's mare is a progressive sort with a good strike rate and the anticipated good ground at this fixture is likely to play very much to her strengths.

As she's only had six career starts to date, there's every chance that further improvement is on the cards and she's taken to beat Mirjan, who is certainly on a fair mark for when he returns to form.

Len Lungo, who trains the latter, can be on the mark with Laouen, who is also a progressive type, in the James Barr Novices Hurdle over two miles.

This athletic type has a good turn of foot and is effective on a sound surface and, although this represents his stiffest task to date over hurdles, he could be equal to the task.

Lungo can also be on the mark with Brooklyn Breeze, another lightly-raced, improving sort, who is taken to beat Philip Hobbs' Throwaline in the Royal Bank Of Scotland National Hunt Novices Hurdle over two and a half miles.

Back on the level at Newbury, Peruvian Chief could be the one to be on in the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Rated (Showcase) Handicap over five furlongs.

Nick Littmoden's sprinter has looked better than ever on the sand this winter and has struck up a fine rapport with Darryll Holland, who is back in the saddle again.

He wasn't at his best at Doncaster last time but the drop back to the minimum trip on fast ground should suit him much better and the partnership is preferred to likely trailblazer Repertory.

* Mark Johnston hopes to target his smart four-year-old Bandari at the Vodafone Coronation Cup at Epsom in June.

Bandari won three of his five races last year, including the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, and finished third in the St Leger on his final outing,

''He got a bit wound up at the races but he's done well over the winter and put on quite a lot of weight, which is what we wanted and he's looking better than ever," said the Middleham trainer.

''I just hope he can hold it because there are no serious races for him until the middle of the year.

''The Coronation Cup and the King George are his two big aims.''

The racing career of Bandari's stable companion Yavana's Pace remains in the balance.

Johnston's grand campaigner last year became the oldest horse to win a Group One race at the age of ten but sustained an injury to his near-fore ligament.

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