It's great that racing is back, though there is plenty of confusion about running plans this weekend with uncertainty over vaccinations requirements and whether horses are cleared to run.
When even the smooth and highly efficient Nicky Henderson team are tripped up in some cases by the latest BHA tomfoolery and red tape, let's cast our sights a further week ahead to BARON ALCO who has an outstanding chance in the 188 Handicap Chase at Kempton on Saturday week.
Gary Moore's runner has always had a touch of class, as seen with his close second to Top Notch in the Scilly Isles at Sandown two years ago, and his second to current Gold Cup contender Road To Respect in the Plate at the Cheltenham Festival the same season. That was a particularly noteworthy effort as he picked up an injury in that race which ruled him out of the entire following season.
Just pipped by Charbel on his comeback at Chepstow earlier this season, there was certainly no "bounce factor" next time as he followed up with a career best effort in the Bet Victor Chase at Cheltenham where he ran his rivals into the ground with a sharp and sure front running performance.
Not big is stature but game and brave, he pinged his fences that day with no less a rival than Frodon all out to stay in touch in second throughout.
While Frodon has since turned the tables under revised terms back at Cheltenham in the Caviar Cup where Moore's horse was fourth, there was no disgrace in that as the winner is now heading for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
As we might expect it looks a highly competitive affair, with Glen Rocco topping the betting and Black Corton and Adrien Du Pont - attracting some serious ante post support - others to consider. Janika and usual suspects Give Me A Copper and Lough Derg Spirit are in the mix too. I see Cyrname on some betting lists but he will surely take his chance in the Betfair Ascot Chase this Saturday which looks a golden opportunity.
Back to the 888 Handicap Chase though and it speaks volumes that Ladbrokes, who don't miss much, only offer 9/1 about Baron Alco while other shrewdies like Coral and Betfred have clipped him to "tens". So the 14's still available should be snapped up quickly and all bookies are paying the first four places.
BARON ALCO 0.5 point each way 14/1 William Hill, Betfair, Bet Victor, Paddy Power and 888 Sport.