Saturday’s free to air TV coverage begins at 13:50. The progressive Three Faces West is respected, as is Minella Rocco (despite having a record more patchy than Pudsey’s face), but it’s a Nicky Henderson runner who gets the nod.
Sir Sean Connery lives in the Bahamas and probably doesn’t need to resort to adverts, however if he was to do a Lenny Henry then the series could be called Premier Bond. The seven-year-old was pulled up in the Shhhhhhhhcottish Grand National when last seen, but had won two novices prior to a career-best third in the Kim Muir handicap at Cheltenham in March.
Kylemore Lough is a fascinating contender in the BetVictor Gold Cup at 14:25, making his first start for Harry Fry having left Kerry Lee over the summer. He has a chequered record at Cheltenham, and has shown his best form on more testing ground, but shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Preference, though, is for Ballyalton. He’s trained by Ian Williams who has been in great form of late, and the horse, who won at the 2016 Festival, was an encouraging sixth over hurdles at Aintree last month on his first start for 569 days.
Ballyalton is owned by golfer Lee Westwood’s dad and will hopefully fare better than Jnr has done this week in Dubai!
Tully East, a winner at last season’s Festival and Le Prezien, who chased home Foxtail Hill at the course last time, look the pick of the rest.
Thomas Campbell – named after the poet not the soup – landed a gamble at the track last time and the longer trip here should be no issue given the way he stayed on up the hill. He’s certainly one to follow, and gets the nod here ahead of Dell’ Arca.
The latter was an emphatic winner at Newbury earlier this month but has less scope for improvement than Thomas Campbell. The unexposed Rocky’s Treasure, making his seasonal reappearance, and last year’s winner Anteros, look the pick of the rest.
The ITV cameras sign off with a very competitive handicap hurdle at 15:30. Red Indian improved for the step up in distance at Warwick when last seen in May, and looks the type to improve again for this even longer trip, but in a devilishly difficult race to solve, it might be worth siding with Diable de Sivola.
Nick William’s charge – a member of Timeform’s Fifty to Follow for the season – was fifth in the Fred Winter handicap at last term’s Festival and he continued his run of consistent form when second at Fontwell on his return to action last month, again shaping better than the bare result.
However, there are more dangers here than at a House of Commons Christmas party, and the likes of Robin The Raven, Poker Play and Perfect Summer are all afforded plenty of respect.