With the ground at Haydock threatening to turn more desperate than a ‘I’m a Celebrity’ contestant – this is not the time to side with unproven stayers in a top Grade One race.
We’ve had a look at both the Lancashire track and Ascot, presumed you don’t need us to tell you that Faugheen and The New One look shoo-ins for their respective seasonal debuts and concentrated on the two open-looking chases instead with our Venn Diagrams. (below)
Anything in yellow is all good. Anything outside yellow is mostly good – but just needs to prove it. A bit like Louis van Gaal.
So sit back, relax and wait for the after-race over-reaction theatre to unfold on Cheltenham 2015 from the best seat in the house.
Just six runners go to post and Ruby Walsh’s trip to Ascot to steer Faugheen home in the Coral Hurdle sees him pick up a spare ride on 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Al Ferof.
Paul Nicholls’ flying grey won this last year in a match with French Opera but it seems Father Time hasn’t quite caught up with Philip Hobb’s Wishfull Thinking.
He scooted up in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase at Aintree a few weeks back and the form was boosted by Uxiandre’s win at Cheltenham’s Open meeting last weekend.
Nicky Henderson’s Rajdhani Express unseated Sam Waley-Cohen (SWC) in that contest but dined at the top table towards the end of last season when finishing third to Dynaste in the Grade One Ryanair Chase.
SWC tends to spend as much time in the winner’s enclosure as Clare Balding does in front of the CH4 cameras so we’re going to go for the underdog and a bit of value.
Fox Appeal won a Grade 2 Novice Chase over course and distance and with race fitness on his side could step up if the market leaders don’t bring their ‘A’ game.
Selection: Fox Appeal @ 7/1
The first three in the betting renew rivalry as last year’s winner Cue Card (follows the same path as last season) goes hoof-to-hoof again with runner-up Dynaste and third-placed Silviniaco Conti.
Top jock Ruby Walsh thinks Silviniaco Conti will bounce back to winning ways and who are we to argue with Ruby?. He’s a very good arguer.
Dynaste tops the market but there’s always the fear that David Pipe’s runner has a glass jaw in races when the mud is flying. Confirmed mud-lark Taquin Du Seuil has been quietly punted as he gets another chance to prove he really, really, does stay 3m 1f in a Grade One contest.
Whoever wins expect bookmakers’ reps to be tripping over themselves to promote it to clear favourite for the most open-looking Cheltenham Gold Cup in years.
Selection: Cue Card @3/1