Bensalem to burst into World Hurdle picture

CHELTENHAM stages its ‘Trials Day'’tomorrow and BENSALEM looks the best bet on the card in the Cleeve Hurdle at 3.35pm. Alan King’s eight-year-old has an amazing record when fresh and has won all of his career starts to date when reappearing from a substantial break. He is reportedly working extremely well at home and will be hard to beat particularly with no Big Buck’s in the line-up.

Elsewhere on a cracking card, LOCAL HERO should land the opener with Tony McCoy in the saddle and TIDAL BAY is the value alternative to Time For Rupert in the Argento Chase. Howard Johnson’s runner looked the first beat behind Imperial Commander at Haydock in November, but rallied to finish second. He is overpriced at around 11/2, but he may trade even bigger in-running on Betdaq if he looks moody in the opening stages of the race. He has a habit of coming off the bridle pretty early on and it may be worth taking a chance on him at a big price during that sulking stage.

Time For Rupert is the most exciting novice in training and will be a tough nut to crack. However, he is still a novice and I’d far rather be a layer at shorter than 6/4 than a backer as it’s easy to forget that he is being somewhat thrown in the deep end.

The ground seems to be drying out pretty fast at Doncaster and for that reason I’ll be opposing Fistral Beach and Blazing Bailey in the Skybet Chase as they both seem at their best with plenty of cut in the ground. I’d far rather take an each-way chance on CALGARY BAY, a previous winner over this very course and distance on good ground, at 10/1. Somersby showed last weekend that Henrietta Knight’s stable may well be returning to form and last season’s Gold Cup sixth looks decent value in an ultra competitive contest.

Looking at today’s action and MOURAD, my ante-post World Hurdle selection from last week, should take the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park this afternoon on his way to the Festival. Yet, he won’t be much of a price and I’d rather back the stable’s POMME TIEPY at 5/1 with William Hill in the Thyestes Chase at 2.55pm. The eight-year-old mare appears to have been laid out for this race and the trip and ground will hold no fears.

Finally, I have had a very good word for Nicky Henderson’s newcomer MOOSE MORAN in Ludlow’s 1.25pm contest on Monday. The former Henry Cecil-trained flat campaigner has supposedly taken extremely well to life over hurdles and is expected to take this race on the way to much better things.