All eyes are now starting to be geared towards the Cheltenham Festival and although Bob’s Worth has been ruled out of the Argento Chase, the race could still have a bearing on the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Cleeve Hurdle is especially expectant to provide some clues for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, with Oscar Whisky having only his second career outing over 3m.
Among his rivals are Reve De Sivola and Kauto Stone, who is of interest having his first start over hurdles in Britain after pulling up in the King George on his last outing.
Elsewhere, Sprinter Sacre is in action and should enhance his already superlative Festival claims in the Victor Chandler Chase and five leading novice hurdlers will line up for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.
1:50 Cheltenham: Sprinter Sacre @ 1/7
The Victor Chandler Chase is unlikely to tell anyone anything they don’t already know about Sprinter Sacre and so the biggest clues on offer may relate to who has the strongest claims to finishing behind him in the each-way places in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March.
Sanctuaire has already finished behind him once, but did seem to improve slightly when taking a Group Two at Kempton in December when conceding weight all round.
The straight forecast on this pair may be the best route to making money here.
2:25 Cheltenham: Weird Al @ 6/1
With Tidal Bay and Calgary Bay joining Bobs Worth on the absent list, the Argento Chase has suddenly become more open.
No 12-year-old has won the race in the last decade, which is not great news for Imperial Commander, who is up against it in any case on his first start for almost two years.
Grands Crus went well for a long way in the King George, but arguably didn’t stay and this is over slightly further.
Weird Al looks the best of the remainder and must enter each-way calculations if repeating his performance in the Betfair Chase last time, when not finishing far off the likes of Silviniaco Conti and Long Run.
3:00 Cheltenham: Coneygree @ 3/1
With four highly exciting novices hurdlers taking part, unbeaten in 10 races between them this season, the Neptune could prove the most exciting race on the Cheltenham card.
The New One sets the standard, but there is little value in backing him odds-on.
Nicky Henderson has won this in two of the last five years and Whisper could be open to any amount of improvement, but his inexperience may be his weakness here.
At Fishers Cross has not been as impressive as his rivals, winning in a more workmanlike fashion, so the preference marginally is for Coneygree.
His stamina is proven over 3m so this drop back in trip should present few problems and if allowed to dictate from the front, he could have them at it early in behind.
3:35 Cheltenham: Reve De Sivola @ 9/4
Oscar Whisky is probably the best of these, but his unproven stamina over 3m and the fact the ground is soft means his price is too short to entertain.
Reve De Sivola galloped clear in similar conditions at Ascot last time and this makes him the one to beat.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date