Consider this alternative as Johnson’s best ante-post Cheltenham hope

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According to Richard Johnson, three-year-old Golden Doyen is his best ante-post chance for a winner at the famous Cheltenham Festival next March but Philip Hobbs’ stable jockey may well have overlooked the merits of another of his rides.

Golden Doyen, who claimed a second consecutive win over hurdles under Johnson when taking the Triumph Hurdle trial last time out, is a 16/1 chance with Ladbrokes to take the fully-fledged version at Prestbury Park.

However, in declaring the German-bred gelding as his highest hope for a Festival winner, the jockey may have done disservice to Champagne West, who enjoyed a fine seasonal reappearance recently.

The six-year-old was victorious under Johnson in the Steel Plate and Sections’ Novices Chase at Cheltenham back in November, a race that saw him beat stablemate Colour Squadron by three-and-a-quarter lengths and is a 12/1 chance to take the RSA Chase at the Festival.

Kings Palace is the favourite for that outing at Prestbury Park at 8/1 and the David Pipe-trained horse will pose tough questions if his own seasonal debut is anything to go by.

Tom Scudamore was on board for a winning reappearance for the six-year-old at Cheltenham last time out and is among the early entries to return to the course this weekend for a clash against two other Hobbs chances, Sausalito Sunrise and Return Spring.

Champagne West has his own Cheltenham entry booked for the weekend, as Hobbs listed him for the Ryman Stationery Novices’ Chase at the same meeting, with Johnson given the ride.

Should that outing go well, it’s likely that Champagne West’s RSA Chase odds will shrink somewhat and may cause Johnson to re-evaluate his ante-post chances at the same time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.