BE loyal and stick with RATHER BE in the Caspian Caviar (I never buy any other brand!!) Gold Cup at Cheltenham (1.55).
The seven-year-old cost us in last month’s BetVictor Gold Cup here but he was jumping well and travelling even better when brought down in some carnage four from home.
It was too far out to say he would have won but close enough to home to think he would surely have been involved in the finish.
He runs off the same mark that looked so attractive then based on his Festival form.
The first three from last month’s race are all back for more but the winner Baron Alco has been put up 6lb and the double is attempted almost every year but is rarely achieved, the last to do so was Exotic Dancer in 2006.
Runner-up Frodon is brilliantly consistent but that quality means he is weighted to his very best.
GET ON TREND Who will win the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup this Saturday?
Third home, Guitar Pete, won this 12 months ago but he had luck on his side that day and probably needs softer ground.
War Sound and Mr Medic were impressive winners at Aintree and Ascot respectively last month but the handicapper has reacted and they are up in class today.
Cepage has been nibbled at in the betting and Venetia Williams is superb at getting her horses fit to win first time out but, like many of her string, he may need more rain.
A bigger threat at a price could be Catamaran Du Seuil. He has gone up 9lb for an easy Wetherby win but was well backed to defy that rise at Aintree last week, where he fell early on.
With Willie Mullins opting not to run Laurina because of the unseasonal good ground the International Hurdle (3.05) has an interesting betting shape.
Summerville Boy seems set to go off favourite but he was a huge disappointment when fourth on his reappearance at Newcastle (where Visions des Flos was beaten miles into third) and that was only two weeks ago.
On his novice form he will go close but he has questions to answer. So too does We Have A Dream after two moderate efforts.
The in-form progressive runner is fast-ground loving SILVER STREAK, who has been making hay while the (autumn and winter) sun shines.
Carlisle stage a decent jumps meeting on Sunday and the best bet is SPIDER’S BITE in the 2m5f Smarkets Chase at 1.55.
He has only had one outing over fences but what an impressive chase debut it was, finishing a close second in a hotter race at Ascot with the rest of a competitive field well strung out.
The winner, King Of Realms (runs 1.35 Doncaster, Sat) is well regarded and there is more to come from the first two. Spider’s Bite has been nudged up 5lb but that is more than fair and he is worth a nibble in this company!
His latest second in the Greatwood Hurdle here is tip-top handicap form and he only has a little more to find on official ratings. He will be hard to keep out of the frame so hopefully all eight will stand their ground.
The old guard are led by, well, Old Guard, who seems to have been around for ever but is still only seven. He won this in 2015 but is better over an extra half mile these days.
A win for The New One, who has won this three times since 2013, would raise the Cheltenham roof. Sadly for his fans there is unlikely to be a need for any rebuilding work!
The one to be on in the concluding mares hurdle (3.40) is definitely DEFINITELYANOSCAR.
OUT & ABOUT WITH ANDY Andy Ayres has the inside scoop from the tracks this week
She was still going well when falling three out in a strong race at Chepstow on her return and won a fair maiden at Warwick last time in good style.
That bare form suggest she is well weighted here and she is bred to do better now she steps up from two miles.
Ratoute Yutty is another progressive type but her Ascot form came in a slowly-run affair where that had a dreadful ragged start where she started fourth and stayed there.
The solid form is provided by Sensulano and Petticoat Tales, the first two in a similar race at Ascot. But this faster ground may not be ideal for either.
I spy an eyecatcher…
At Lingfield on Monday Gary Moore’s CLAYTON was a big market drifter before the 2m handicap hurdle, going out to 12-1 from 5s before returning an SP of 10-1.
But he was still bang in contention coming down the hill into the straight. He then kept to the inside rail, whereas the principals raced up the centre, where the best ground seemed to be all afternoon.
Clayton duly got bogged down and faded into eighth. This was still an encouraging reappearance and he is one to be on next time given his ideal combination of two miles on heavy ground, preferably at Lingfield but he could pop up at one of the other smaller Southern tracks.
There is another poor turnout at Doncaster with just 48 declared for seven races and a bet is hard to find, although naturally Betting Spy was sorely tempted by O O Seven in the 3.20!
Thank goodness for the all-weather and Newcastle stage a competitive Flat meeting.
The feature is a terrific staying conditions race over two miles at 12.55 where it can pay to believe in a HIGHER POWER.
James Fanshawe’s six-year-old goes well at the track and is in fine form, having been just pipped by Watersmeet at Kempton last month.
At the weights there should be little between them again but Watersmeet, whose all-weather record is a superb 12 wins from 25 starts, has never won here.
He has tasted success at Lingfield, Kempton, Wolverhampton and Chelmsford but has missed out on three visits to Geordie-land. He has even won on his sole trip to Dundalk!
Charlie Appleby’s Festival Of Ages may be the big danger but his latest win, though impressive, was in Class 5 company over 1m2f so there have to be doubts.