Trainer Gordon Elliott has made no secret of the fact that one race at the Festival he desperately wants to win is the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Friday 4.50pm).
He spent some time with Pipe in the 90s when he was a jockey and credits the legendary trainer as being one of the biggest influences on his career.
Agonisingly, Noble Endeavor went down by the narrowest of margins to Killultagh Vic 12 months ago, but Elliott is back again with another major chance.
SQUOUATEUR has won three of his four hurdles starts and this looks to have been the plan all season. Jack Kennedy, the future star jockey in Ireland, has been booked for the ride.
There is very little not to like about this five-year-old son of Martaline. He stays well, jumps well and handles all types of ground. The 6/1 with Sky Bet is worth taking.
Willie Mullins has won this race three times in the last five years, including the last two. He saddles four runners and Childrens List appears to be his best chance according to the betting.
Paul Nicholls’ Qualando won the Fred Winter last year, so has the all-important Festival form.
He is respected, but at a bigger price I would advise having a few quid on Nicky Henderson’s LAURIUM.
The six-year-old has only run twice this season, but he has been crying out for good ground and looks well-handicapped. Take the 25/1 with Paddy Power.
Barters Hill has been a warm favourite for the Albert Bartlett (2.50pm) most of the season. He’s unbeaten in seven starts and has the most wonderful battling attitude.
However, his least impressive performance was last time out at Doncaster and I’m just worried that he is going to struggle to hold off 23 rivals. This is always a bruising race.
Neil Mulholland broke his Festival duck last year with The Druid’s Nephew. He’s an excellent trainer and I’m hoping he can make it win number two with SHANTOU VILLAGE.
The son of Shantou is two from three over hurdles, with his only defeat coming on heavy ground to Yanworth on Trials Day.
There was a genuine excuse that day, as he’s clearly better on a sound surface. Today’s conditions should be ideal for him.
This is his first try at three miles, but he should be fine with the trip and Richard Johnson takes the ride. Take the 9/2 with Sky Bet.
In a bid to end the Festival on a high note, I'll be backing DANDRIDGE each-way at around the 10/1 mark in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (5.30pm).
His handler Arthur Moore has twice trained the winner of this race – on both occasions with horses lurking at the bottom of the weights.
Fadoudal Du Cochet won off bottom-weight in 2002, before Tiger Cry carried just 10st 6lbs to victory in 2008.
Dandridge will be receiving weight from all bar one of his 23 rivals today and is a horse in good form too.
I was impressed with his performance at Doncaster last time out, finishing five lengths clear of Just Cameron who ran credibly to finish sixth in Wednesday's Betway Champion Chase.
After a dry week the seven-year-old will also get his preferred conditions and must have a cracking each-way chance with Betway ambassador Davy Russell in the saddle.
Clan Des Obeaux (already advised 16/1), 1.30pm, Cheltenham
Shantou Village, 2.50pm, Cheltenham
Squouateur, 4.50pm, Cheltenham
Laurium e/w, 4.50pm, Cheltenham
Dandridge e/w, 5.30pm, Cheltenham