Enda Bolger is the master of these races, winning five of the eight runnings, including the last three with the wonderful Garde Champetre. He has booked Nina Carberry, who has a fantastic record on this course, for Arabella Boy and the seven-year-old really couldn’t be in better hands.
The son of Beneficial needs this step up in trip and he should go very close off just 10st 8lb. Uncle Junior bounced back to form to win over this course last month but he has gone up in the weights again which could put paid to his chances.
Let’s just hope that the fiasco of this race 12 months ago, when a number of jockeys took the wrong course entering the straight, isn’t repeated.
Before the Cross Country, BRADLEY has a great chance to compensate punters who saw him get narrowly beaten here as favourite last month. Fergal O’Brien’s inmate lines up in the 1.55pm and is receiving bundles of weight from Cheltenham specialist Midnight Chase, who has won five times at Prestbury Park, but will do well to shoulder 11st 12lb to victory.
Bradley is relatively lightly-raced as an eight-year-old, having had just 11 starts, and still looks well handicapped off a mark of 138. Conditions should be perfect for him and I expect a big run, although Planet Of Sound is a danger.
AT FISHERS CROSS can prove himself a progressive sort with victory in the 3.40pm. A winner of four of his six races so far, AP McCoy’s mount was impressive at Newbury last time, stretching clear of a well-backed Paul Nicholls horse. He’s gone up 9lb for that, but I’m not sure it will end his winning spree.
As you would expect with 16 runners, it’s a competitive affair but the majority at the top of the weights look exposed.
Finally, don’t miss MELODIC RENDEZVOUS in the lucky last (3.40pm) for the in-form Jeremy Scott team. He was second to Champagne Fever in Punchestown’s Champion Bumper in April and was always the type to do better over hurdles.
He was a decent second on his seasonal debut at Exeter and his work since then has reportedly been of the highest order. This is a hot race but he can mark himself down as a serious novice hurdler for the rest of the season.
BRADLEY 1.55pm Cheltenham (today)
ARABELLA BOY 2.30pm Cheltenham (today)
AT FISHERS CROSS 3.05pm Cheltenham (today)
MELODIC RENDEZVOUS 3.40pm Cheltenham (today)