Racing tip of the day
Ben Linfoot heads to Cheltenham's first meeting of the new jumps season for his bet of the day.
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Viking Blond 3.15 Cheltenham
Tomorrow we can enjoy QIPCO British Champions Day, but today let's herald the return of National Hunt racing at Cheltenham.
It really feels like the jumps season is kicking into gear when 'The Showcase' meeting comes around, and, though it's a fairly low-key opening stanza with no Channel 4 coverage and no Hollywood horses on show, it's still top-drawer fare and it's still Cheltenham.
The first race on this card last year was won by Nigel Twiston-Davies' The New One, a horse who went onto to win the Neptune at the Festival and one that is prominent in the betting for the Champion Hurdle in 144 days time.
If there is a future Festival winner on show today he could well be one of the three runners in the Cheltenham Annual Members Novices' Chase, an intriguing little contest with Irish raider Rebel Fitz going for the six-timer.
He's obviously in great form and may have a fitness advantage over his two rivals, but Third Intention has a just as impressive collection of form and could be the one getting 8lb from the favourite.
Colin Tizzard's horse could be a bet, but for the best one of the day I'd prefer to chance VIKING BLOND in the following Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at 3.15.
Twiston-Davies' horses are always worth a second look at this time of year - he had two winners on this card last season - and the selection himself was second in the same race off a 2lb higher mark.
In a first-time visor he's of major interest here given he goes well fresh and his main market rival, Captain Sunshine, remains a dodgy starter who is hard to win with.
Viking Blond has no such issues. He's an uncomplicated front-runner who could take some pegging back at his local track this afternoon.