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Dan Skelton’s horse hasn’t run since his big win at Newbury in the old Hennessy and he’s up 6lbs.
Obviously connections have been minding his mark ever since.
He’ll enjoy a bit of juice in the ground, it’s perfect timing ahead of Aintree and I’d expect him to see off this lot pretty comfortably.
Kelso have done a great job with the valuable Morebattle Hurdle and putting up the £100,000 bonus if the winner goes on to land any race at Cheltenham is a nice touch.
Emmet Mullins and Paul Byrne managed to do it two years ago with The Shunter and they’re back again with the four-year-old MCTIGUE (1.45).
He won a Grade 2 in Auteuil last October, turning over a French hotpot, but that horse reversed the form in a Grade 1 the next month.
Although Mctigue has disappointed since, he could still be well-handicapped and you ignore these connections at your peril.
Colonel Mustard had a good level of form last season, finishing third behind State Man in the County Hurdle and before that was second to Jonbon and ahead of Knappers Hill in the Kennel Gate at Ascot.
I’ll be siding with the Irish over the English in this. Emmet also has the likely favourite in the Premier Novices’ Hurdle, but Feronily is making his debut over hurdles so it’s going to be a big ask.
NEMEAN LION (2.25) was a good third behind Tahmuras in the Tolworth and he’ll do for me.
At Newbury, the Greatwood Gold Cup features two course specialists in Zanza and PAINT THE DREAM (2.45) who both carry 12 stone.
Zanza did incredibly well to win the Grade 2 Denman, but he’s up a whopping 15lbs and we all know that weight stops trains.
He improved for the step up in trip, so dropping back to two and a half miles could work against him.
Like Zanza, Paint The Dream is unbeaten over fences at Newbury and he won this race last year. He should get his head in front again.
In the Veterans’ Chase, MISTER MALARKY (1.40) is the one for me.
He has the best recent form.
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