West To The Bridge - 13:00 Catterick
Smart Stat: 23% - Dan Skelton's strike rate with chasers at up to 2m3f
West To The Bridge hasn't raced over fences since December 2019, but he's been in good nick over hurdles recently, proving better than ever when second on his latest appearance at Wetherby. He's usually dropped out but ran really well from the front at Wetherby, making a progressive rival pull out all the stops to beat him by a length and three quarters. That was a useful performance which will make him very much the one to beat if running to the same sort of level now back over fences, albeit he has had the odd jumping issue on his previous starts in this sphere for Dan Skelton.
Al Kout - 16:30 Newcastle
Smart Stat: £27.50 - Heather Main's profit to a £1 level stake with horses running after a break
Al Kout ran right up to his best when last seen filling the runner-up spot at Kempton in November, putting up a good fight against a useful rival. He raced clear of the field in the early stages and stuck to his task well after being tackled entering the final two furlongs, ultimately passing the post just half a length behind Imperium, who has won again since. Al Kout is only 4 lb higher in the weights here and should mount a bold bid to go one place better for Heather Main, who is likely to have him ready to go after nearly four months on the sidelines.
Ursa Minor - 18:00 Newcastle
Smart Stat: 32% - John Gosden's strike rate at Newcastle since the start of the 2017 season
Smart Stat: 28% - Robert Havlin's strike rate at Newcastle
Smart Stat: 23% - John Gosden's strike rate with horses running in races between 7f and up to 10f
Ursa Minor failed to meet expectations after 15 months off when only third at Wolverhampton in December, while he then ran even worse when down the field over this course and distance last time, possibly finding the race coming too soon. Nevertheless, there are reasons why he might be expected to bounce back here, with blinkers being fitted on his first start since a breathing operation. It's well worth remembering how promising he had looked previously, notably boasting some strong two-year-old form, and he deserves another chance to prove himself better than a BHA mark of 84 for John Gosden and Robert Havlin, both of whom have enjoyed plenty of success at Newcastle in recent seasons.