“Invitation Only”. The cruel words that I was greeted with when trying to get into the Oscars earlier this month.
Willie Mullins has never received a golden statue of a bald man (as far as I’m aware), but he has taken home a share of the prize for winning the JLT Novices’ Chase (13:30) on four occasions, including the last three seasons.
He trains Invitation Only whose close-up third in the Flogas Chase appeals as being the best form on offer, and with improvement on the cards too, he can see off Terrefort, who has made a faultless start to life with Nicky Henderson.
Paddy Power’s Mean Tweets video (definitely worth a watch) reveals that the well-padded Gordon Elliott is not everyone’s favourite trainer, but he has an excellent Cheltenham Festival record and can add to it in the Pertemps Final at 14:10 with Glenloe.
He was behind the same owner’s A Great View when third at Leopardstown over Christmas, but this has presumably been the plan all along and it looks significant that Berry Geraghty sides with him now.
Louis’ Vac Pouch – owned by a hoover company – looks the best of the British runners and can hoover up one of the places.
It’s very hard to get away from Un de Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase at 14:50 and he can make it un-deux-trois in terms of Cheltenham Festival wins.
He won the Arkle in 2015, saw off the reopposing Sub Lieutenant in this last year, and has looked every bit as good when winning both starts this term.
The 2013 Ryanair winner Cue Card showed he’s still a force to be reckoned with when second in the Ascot Chase and won’t go down without a fight if turning up in similar form, but it seems clear that he’s played his ace card and is now down to jacks and 10s at best.
He’s about as fashionable as socks and sandals, however Sam Spinner has to be one of the most progressive hurdlers around, showing a tremendous attitude to see off L’Ami Serge in the Long Walk Hurdle last time.
He gets the vote in the Stayers’ Hurdle at 15:30, and would be the biggest northern winner at the meeting since I managed to get a free pint back in 2012.
Yanworth and Supasundae occupied the first two spots in the Liverpool Hurdle in April and look to head the opposition, in that order, though neither appears to have the stamina of Sam Spinner, who looks one of the bets of the week.
* All odds correct at time of posting.