RACE PREVIEWS & TIPS (THURSDAY)

13:50 Wincanton Cheltenam De Vaige looks one of only a few improvers in this opening contest. There is no doubt he is getting closer with each outing and his latest run behind Present Times at Towcester was a career best. The form has started to work out as the horse that finished just in front of him (Lord Ballim) has come out and won subsequently. This trip will not be an issue and the more rain that falls, the better his chances appear to be. Zac Baker keeps the ride and he is able to claim seven pounds from his mount. That could prove invaluable in a contest of this nature and the duo should go close. Flow With Eve has run at this track before and was not disgraced when finishing fifth to Toberdowney on Boxing Day. Since then she has proved a model of consistency and came closest to winning her first ever race at Taunton last time. If putting in a similar display, the lightly raced seven year old is likely to prove the biggest threat. Homers Odyssey took a significant step forward last time when upped in trip. This reversion to less that two anda half miles looks far from ideal. Cheltenam De Vaige (E/W if 9/2+)

16:45 Thurles Raz De Maree looks to be using this as a stepping stone towards the Grand National next month. Despite his advanced years, this twelve year old is no slouch nd was a very creditable runner up to Native River in the Welsh Grand National back in December. His hurdle rating is some twenty five pounds inferior to that of his chasing mark so it is of little surprise that he runs here. Ger Fox has ridden him in all of his starts this year and the veteran looks to be benefiting from that. This looks a perfectly reasonable opportunity for him to land a first hurdles win since 2011. Hollow Tree is a model of consistency but finds it very difficult to get his head in front these days. His latest effort behind Sutton Place was somewhere near his best, so he is hinting at a return to form. Three miles is well within his scope and he looks the main threat. The worse the ground the better are the chances of Rue Hill. Being by Craigsteel he will love every drop of rain that falls and he tends to well following a break so has live each way claims. Raz De Maree (WIN)