Our top gossip column is back and expecting Nicky Henderson to taste more big-race glory at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Tips from the gallops
1425 Cheltenham - Rather Be
Rather Be can give Nicky Henderson his second success in the Betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. The champion trainer won this event 15 years ago with that grand performer Fondmort, and his latest aspirant will be looking to emulate his illustrious stablemate in following a Cheltenham Festival second with victory here.
Rather Be was strongly fancied by connections back in March but was just found out in the closing stages by the highly-rated Mister Whitaker and beaten a head. Although Mick Channon's rising star is back for the rematch, and won well in a good race at Carlisle earlier this month, he now faces a tough task at the weights. That was a fine effort from Rather Be on only his fourth outing over fences and there should be more improvement to come.
1240 Cheltenham - Never Adapt
Henderson has a good record in the opening in the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial and Never Adapt should complement the 2017 success of Apple's Shakira. JP McManus bought her with the top juvenile races in mind and she has looked impressive in her work at Seven Barrows this autumn.The only worry is a tendency to be a bit keen, but she has schooled very well and looks capable of adding this to her win at Compiegne in March.
1315 Cheltenham - Minella Awards
Minella Awards had the ideal confidence boost after a lacklustre performance over fences at Chepstow last month when beating his sole rival at Aintree with a ton in hand a week ago. He has more on his plate in the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase but is strongly fancied to follow up.
1350 Cheltenham - Virgilio
Virgilio should just have the edge over Singlefarmpayment in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase. He has enjoyed a lucrative season already with two wins during the summer, followed by a cracking effort in the Bet365 Charlie Hall two weeks ago. Dan Skelton's decision to put up the stable's 10lb claimer William Marshall looks a good decision in view of the nine-year-old's 12lb hike in his rating since the start of the campaign, and another big run is anticipated.
1915 Wolverhampton - Hello Bangkok
Hello Bangkok can put a disappointing outing at Salisbury behind her in the Ladbrokes, Bet 5 Get 20 EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes at Wolverhampton. Andrew Balding has given her a break since that dismal effort and if she can repeat her debut second behind Shambolic, she should take plenty of beating here.
1425 Cheltenham, Sunday - Sceau Royal
Sceau Royal can see of the challenge of Brain Power in the Grade Two Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday. Henderson's decision not to run Altior here as a warm-up to the Tingle Creek in three weeks time, will disappoint the likely big crowd. It has left a very interesting betting race though. Sceau Royal is not the biggest, but he is a quick, aggressive fencer, something you could not quite say about his Lambourn rival, though he is reported in great form. Alan King also has the selection in great heart, and he can defy a three-pound penalty
1500 Cheltenham, Sunday - Deyrann de Carjac
Deyrann de Carjac looks worth an each-way interest in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.King's lightly raced gelding has been on the radar since his eye-catching effort behind the high class Kalashnikov at Doncaster just under a year ago, and went on to win a little race at Warwick in a light campaign. He returned to action at Chepstow last month and ran a fine race to chase home the highly rated Pym, who was receiving six pounds.
Although that rival was beaten next time, if his mark of 138 is to be believed, Deyrann is nicely weighted here with a mark of 128. His trainer makes no secret of his high regard of his progressive youngste and he could well run into a place. Verdana Blue is the one to beat after her win at Wincanton last week but there is the concern that this race comes very quickly for her. Expect a big run also from her stablemate Charlie Parcs, who has been a let down more than once but gets his desired good ground here and has been working very well.
1600 Cheltenham, Sunday - Hold The Note
Hold The Note is held in high regard by Mick Channon and can see off a good field in the High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire And Racing Remember Bumper. The four-year-old was strongly fancied to prevail in a relatively low-key event at Newton Abbot on his debut and duly delivered. He has been working sufficiently well since that performance to suggest he can cope with the step up in class.
1255 Fontwell, Sunday - Lisp
Lisp, a stablemate of Sceau Royal and Deyrann de Carjac, showed plenty of ability in his first season over hurdles and looks nicely weighted in the Follow Sun Racing Salmon Spray Handicap Hurdle at Fontwell.