1 30 – JLT
Top Notch 4/1
Yorkhill could run away with this if his jumping has been fixed, but if not he could be vulnerable. I’m going to hope Mullins’ sticky patch continues and Top Notch can stick it to him. A tiny horse, but a marvellous jumper – the only worry is the ground. Some watering overnight would be well received, and any drops of rain will be welcomed with open arms. He’s talented and has dominated small fields all season. Nico De Boinville rates him as a fantastic chance. He’s gone under the radar somewhat; probably due to the smaller races he’s entered but could be ready to pounce on the biggest stage of them all for a trainer already having a strong festival.
2 10 – Pertemps Hurdle
Impulsive Star 10/1 EW
I really liked Gayebury for this race but the ground just hasn’t come right for him. Impulsive Star also looks a cracking bet though and we still don’t know how good he could be. For a competitive handicap like this you want a horse on the up, and 140 looks workable still. Hos only ever effort in such a hot race, he finished a respectable fourth behind Wholestone – form that has been trumped as the season progressed. I think he’s improved since this and could have a lot to offer, especially at an EW price.
2 50 – The Ryanair
Un De Sceaux 5/2
I’ve already played my card on this race and it’s too late to back out now. The ground is a huge worry as the form of Mullins. Empire of Dirt looks more threatening every hour that passes without water falling on the grasses of Cheltenham. But let’s be positive. He’s the classiest horse in the race by a mile. He never gets the credit he deserves and this new trip has already proven that it will bring out more and more. The form figures speak for itself and yes, he’s not the flashiest and he’s often ignored out of being unfashionable rather than logic. Here’s to UDS, I can’t back out now…
3 30 – Stayers’ Hurdle
Uknowhatimeanharry 5/4 & Cole Harden 9/1 EW
Harry Fry’s star comes into this as many peoples’ banker of the festival and who am I to disagree. He should win. If he runs to his rating, or even close to his rating nothing in the race should really threaten to strenuously on current form. The price is backable considering if you haven’t already jumped on antepost. I like Cole Harden EW and as has already been made obvious, his run last time behind Harry was extremely encouraging on ground he dislikes. On the better ground we have this week, Warren Greatrex went as far as saying he could beat him. I also like Zarkander in the race, more out of will than logic; but he’ll get a token or two without doubt. I’m gutted West Approach looks set for this option and had him antepost at a lovely price in the Albert Bartlett.
4 10 – Brown Advisory Chase
Starchitect 8/1, Baron Alco 12/1 EW & Ballykan 33/1 EW
Yes three picks, I apologise. Ballykan has a big run in him and I thought it would be at Kempton last time. It wasn’t a bad effort but I have to follow him just in case this time. Starchitect is Mr Reliable and at 8/1 the EW angle should be a safe enough bet. The ground is workable for David Pipe’s trusty handicapper and you know you’ll get every ounce of effort. Baron Alco is the most exciting and his form could get a huge boost earlier in the day if Top Notch does run well. The Moore stable have hit a fantastic run of form just in time for Cheltenham and he’s one of the bets of the week. He is yet to fully explode into life and I hope Moore has him primed for the big pot.
4 50 – Mares’ Novice Hurdle
La Bague Au Roi 8/1 EW
The two Mullins’ mares will be hard to get by, but Greatrex’s 6YO has been mightily impressive over the winter and looks to have targeted this from a long way out. Good ground is her preferred surface and the run at Newbury was particularly eye catching. She’s got some improvement to find to compete with the Mullins’ string, but who’s to rule that out as this early stage of her career. She’ll take the race up and we’ll find out just how good she is when the Mullins’ duo make their move in behind.
5 30 – Kim Muir
Potters Legend 14/1 EW & Forgotten Gold 40/1 EW
Not a race with a strong fancy and the picks reflect that. Potters Legend is a consistent type and will be there or there abouts come the closing stages. The ground should be fine and the handicapper continues to give him a chance. Forgotten Gold is an 11Yo that retains some of his ability. He remains on a workable mark and at 40/1 is worth a punt in a open race like this with his best form always coming on a sound surface.