SPORTY YANKEE (2.10) can help pay the travelling expenses as Gordon Elliott sends an early 2020 raiding party to Ayr.
The grey hadn’t shown an awful lot until leaving previous runs behind at Fairyhouse last month, finishing second over 2m 7f.
Sporty Yankee drops a couple of furlongs for this handicap hurdle restricted to conditional jockeys and Elliott could hardly have found the seven-year-old an easier opening.
Market rival Cheers Jd was made favourite at Sedgefield on Boxing Day but could only plug on into third.
Richard Johnson teams up with Elliott for three rides and Miss Aloud will have her supporters following an excellent second at Naas behind the Willie Mullins-trained odds-on shot Yukon Lil.
She may find it tough going against local hopes AURORA THUNDER (1.05) and Glorious Lady.
The pair clashed at Kelso last month, with Aurora Thunder getting the worst of the argument. However, Lucinda Russell’s mare is 6lb better off for three-quarters of a length which may be enough to see her turn the tables.
Glorious Lady has since finished a well-held fourth in Listed company at Haydock and this is teed-up to be an exciting contest.
ARDERA CROSS (3.15) should have been freshened up by a welcome seven-week break on the back of a rare below-par effort at Wetherby and can go close at attractive odds in the two-mile handicap hurdle.
Willie Young has done a grand job with his versatile gelding, a triple winner over hurdles and fences this summer, and Ardera Cross also posted a course and distance victory in early November.
Elliott’s Ocean Voyage didn’t shape too badly in a competitive Fairyhouse handicap hurdle at the end of November and market signals will be important.
Calix Delafayette has been off the track 607 days but has some decent back-form.
MARTILA (2.40) was sent off favourite to make a winning start over fences at Sedgefield but failed to match strides with a Dr Richard Newland raider.
Solid yardstick Tonto’s Spirit was runner-up so it was probably quite a hot little event. Martila’s course third to Elvis Mail over hurdles was a grand effort.
James Ewart’s Ettila De Sivola needed all of Brian Hughes’ strength and determination to get back up to score after being headed at Newcastle. He remains a big danger off a 5lb higher mark.
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