Anyone who witnessed Yanworth’s breathtaking victory on Trials Day at Cheltenham in January will understand why he is such a short-priced favourite for tomorrow afternoon’s Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm).
Alan King’s six-year-old beat two useful yardsticks in Shantou Village and Champers On Ice by seven and 10 lengths respectively without coming off the bridle, forcing his trainer to describe him as ‘frightening’.
Yanworth, who was fourth in last season’s Champion Bumper, has now won all four starts over hurdles and will be a tough nut to crack.
Having advised him at 8/1 in my ‘Road to Cheltenham’ column back in January, I certainly won’t be abandoning him now, although I’m a bit concerned about the form of his stable.
King has had plenty run a little below par recently with another very well-backed runner falling short again on Monday.
That said, there isn’t enough evidence to be too concerned and it’s the presence of the Willie Mullins-trained Yorkhill that worries me more.
Not seen since winning the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown back in January, Yorkhill brings the only piece of Grade One-winning form to the table and connections have opted to run here rather than today’s Supreme.
A dramatic market move late last week suggested that he has shown plenty at home in recent weeks and he must pose a significant threat to the favourite.
He ran out an impressive winner on better ground at the Punchestown Festival last season and his win at that venue over this trip in December proves the distance holds no fears either.
My selection can be backed at 11/4 with Sky Bet, who are again giving £25 back as a free bet in the first if you lose.
Enda Bolger’s Josies Orders is a hot favourite for the Cross Country Chase (4.10pm), with the excellent Nina Carberry in the saddle.
It’s easy to see why, as he has won his last two races on this unique course, and seems to be very progressive.
However, all his best form has been on soft ground and I’m not sure conditions are going to be quite ideal tomorrow afternoon.
Instead I’d suggest backing stablemate Quantitativeeasing who was memorably carried out in this race 12 months ago.
He won well at Punchestown two starts back and his last outing over hurdles, alongside Josies Orders, was purely a pipe-opener.
I don’t think there’s too much between them and at 7/1 Quantitativeeasing has to be the each-way selection.
It would be wonderful if Balthazar King could win this race for the third time in six years, but he’s 12-years-old now and had a nasty experience at Aintree in last year’s Grand National.
The Coral Cup (2.50pm) looks an absolute lottery and you could make a case for around a dozen of them.
Diamond King is greatly respected for Gordon Elliott, while Mullins has a number of live contenders.
Richard Johnson is very keen on the chances of Rock The Kasbah after his impressive win at Ascot last time.
He has gone up 8lbs, though, and my eye is drawn to Gary Moore’s Baron Alco, who was just half a length behind him.
He is progressive and is worth backing each-way at around 25/1. Sky Bet are paying five places in this race.
Yorkhill 1.30pm Cheltenham
Yanworth (already advised 8/1) 1.30pm Cheltenham
Baron Alco e/w 2.50pm Cheltenham
Quantitativeeasing e/w 4.10pm Cheltenham