MICKY HAMMOND'S unexpected return to the training ranks early on last year hasn't exactly been an unqualified success, although Deep Water (2.40) could do something to redress the balance at Kelso today.

Admittedly Hammond has had only 59 runners to date this season, so his tally of eight winners at a 14 per cent strike rate doesn't read too badly. However, things have gone very quiet at his Middleham-based stables lately, so I'm sure he'd like to get the show back on the road with Deep Water, who undoubtedly has a great chance in the Weatherby's Travel Hurdle at the Scottish venue.

Deep Water is nothing like as good as he used to be in his younger days, but he still has the ability to pinch the odd race, especially as Hammond has opted to drop the nine-year-old in grade for this afternoon's contest.

Last time out at Ayr the selection was a perfectly respectable runner-up in a Class C event, now taken down to a considerably weaker Class D race, Deep Water should find the opposition far more to his liking.

Just across the road from Hammond's Oakwood Stables stands Warwick Lodge, home to George Moore's team, in with a terrific shout of taking the Persimmon Showcase Handicap Chase via Scotmail Lad (3.10).

Scotmail Lad generally chips in with a win or two every year, and Moore has found an ideal race for his gutsy front-runner to record another of his hallmark pillar-to-post victories.

Both Flat and jumping codes come alike to Tim Easterby, who, fresh from a winner at Newcastle yesterday, can strike again at Lingfield with Only One Legend (12.45) in division one of the Bet Direct Handicap over six furlongs.

Loyal supporters of Only One Legend will need to dig deep in their pockets as he is proving very difficult to win with on the sand this winter. He does look worth giving just one more bite of the cherry following Easterby's decision to switch from Fibresand to Polytrack.

Division two of the contest is a more wide-open affair, with both Sounds Lucky and Teyaar (4.20) bound to be in the shake-up.

Preference is marginally for the latter having been pipped by Jodeeka at the course eight days ago. That heartbreakingly narrow defeat was at five furlongs, a distance over which Teyaar has never won. Hopefully the fact he now has an extra furlong to travel will facilitate a much-needed change of luck.

Top-weight may not stop Ei Ei (4.00) from outgunning his opponents in the two-mile Levy Board Handicap Hurdle at Southwell.

Michael Chapman's gelding is far better known as a multiple winning handicap chaser nowadays, but his rating over fences spiralled to such a degree that Chapman put him back to the smaller obstacles at Huntingdon last month.

The ploy worked a treat and in hindsight it wasn't surprising that Ei Ei prevailed since his hurdles' rating was around 30lb lower compared with his mark over fences. Although upped a few pounds, Ei Ei remains comparatively well-handicapped.

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