So the moral of last week’s racing is never trust a weatherman/woman because they got the Cheltenham forecast totally, utterly and frustratingly wrong and my ante-post investments sank into the soggy Prestbury Park turf, so what about this week?
Well, the view of the meteorologists is for colder weather from Thursday and for it to gradually dry out, cue soft ground heavy in places at Haydock possibly becoming soft and sticky by Saturday afternoon.
Whatever the scenario, the 3m4f handicap chase at 12.40 is going to be a right old slog and ante-post market leader COURTOWN OSCAR must have every chance of following up his winning return at Carlisle despite a career high mark of 130.
Deep ground allied to a comprehensive test of stamina is his forte and this game eight-year-old gets the nod over the likes of the lightly raced Kaki de la Pree and the very well handicapped 2014 Welsh Grand National hero Emperor’s Choice.
The Betfair Chase looks made for Bristol De Mai following his comeback success in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and his love of the flat Lancashire track and testing ground is the cream on the cake.
But with Sizing John more of a force on better ground and Cue Card now having plenty to prove in my book
The outstanding piece of value against the market leader in this main event surely has to be Outlander.
On my private ratings I have him a pound behind BDM, yet he is quoted at 8/1 while the Twiston-Davies grey is the 6/4 favourite. So I won’t even dare pose the question, where is the value in this grade one?
Gordon Elliot’s charge jumped for fun at Down Royal to land the JNwine.com Champion Chase when connections thought he would need the run and the deeper the ground the better his chance will become.
The Stayers Handicap Hurdle (2.25) over an extended two and three quarter miles has yet to take shape, but this is normally run at a furious pace and that should suit the ante-post springer Sam Spinner down to the ground.
However, the shrewdies have already been on with PP and I fancy that the one semblance of value left in the betting book could be in the form of THREE MUSKETEERS.
Dan Skelton’s charge has always been highly regarded at home, but has yet to really fulfil his undoubted potential, particularly over the larger obstacles.
Back over timber this season, the seven-year-old found the two and half miles of the Silver Trophy at Chepstow too sharp, but then upped his game when finishing fifth to the smart Bags Groove (winner since) at Aintree.
This stiffer test of stamina is just what the doctor ordered and with the Skelton team firing on all cylinders I recommend you take the tasty 16/1 available.
It will be interesting to see if Value At Risk takes up his entry in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot (2.40) following his cracking comeback run behind UnowhatImeanharry at Liverpool, but he is surely better off exploiting an attractive mark in handicaps and L’AMI SERGE at 3/1 looks a viable alternative to the Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil.