As we cast our eye once again over the ever-faster approaching Cheltenham Festival it is nice to see that our latest feature, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, has, unlike the Arkle, a competitive nature to it.
And as we look to take on the man known as Pricewise once again, it is perhaps reassuring to us that Tom Segal has given a fairly pleasing write-up to our latest selection, but not gone as far as selecting him.
That horse is Monksland (16/1).
Segal may query whether Noel Meade’s charge has enough quality to win this race, but we think otherwise.
After returning from two years off the track through injury, the eight-year-old has displayed that he maintains plenty of quality, without getting his head in front.
Pitched back in at the deep end in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, a race he won in 2012, Paul Carberry held his mount a long way off the pace, which allowed the pair of Jetson and Lieutenant Colonel to pull well clear.
The horse would have needed to sprout wings to catch the duo, but the manner in which he stayed on strongly past the rest of the runners was eye-catching indeed for a horse returning from 24 months on the sidelines.
His next race was even more encouraging. He jumped slickly in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park, getting from one side of his obstacles to the other with the minimal amount of fuss.
That day, the ground beat him, with a renowned mudlark in Dedigout relishing the heavy underfoot conditions to get up by a head.
Meade himself has come out and said that better ground would bring out more improvement, and with such conditions likely at Cheltenham, he looks a great each-way pick.
On his only previous visit to Prestbury Park he was travelling strongly in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, when turning in for home.
That was before Cotton Mill ducked out and unseated his rider at the second last, causing Monksland a great deal of interference.
I am not for one moment suggesting that the horse would have beaten the devastating Simonsig, but he was almost brought to a stand-still when about to mount his challenge, yet still managed to pick up again for third.
Favourite and last year’s impressive winner, More of That (7/2) will be hard to beat if back to his best, but his only previous run this season was beyond awful, so has to be taken on at this stage.
And with the likes of Rock on Ruby (10/1) and Un Temps Pour Tout (12/1) still to prove they truly stay 3m, yet shorter in the betting, we are plumping for this Irish raider with a nice mix of speed, stamina and effective jumping.
You can see all of our Cheltenham antepost picks below…
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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