Dave Ord's horse-by-horse guide to the November Handicap unearthed the winner, so don't miss his take on Saturday's BetVictor Gold Cup.
KYLEMORE LOUGH: Grade one winner as a novice and showed high level of form last term for Kerry Lee too. Joined Harry Fry over the summer and long-time ante-post favourite for this, looks fairy treated despite top weight but 0-3 here and others represent better value.
LE PREZIEN: May not be entirely straightforward but possesses plenty of ability and shaped encouragingly when chasing home Foxtail Hill here on reappearance. Potentially more to come from him and looks a leading player.
DOUBLE TREASURE: Won his last four including a novice here at the Showcase Meeting. We haven’t seen the best of him yet but the assessor hasn’t missed much with a mark of 150 and it will take yet another personal best to defy it.
VICONTE DU NOYER: Won valuable heat here last season but form tailed off afterwards. Some encouragement behind Cogry on seasonal return but not enough to suggest he is ready to land this, over a trip seemingly short of his optimum.
DAYS OF HEAVEN: Another who has his quirks but won first four over fences before limitations were seemingly exposed at Market Rasen and Stratford. Hard to have much enthusiasm for him off current mark despite top connections.
TULLY EAST: Won the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase at the Festival in March and looked to be having a pipe-opener for this on reappearance at Punchestown. Has to be on any shortlist.
FOXTAIL HILL: Recorded a personal best when fending off Le Prezien on reappearance here last month and will give a bold sight from the front. However he isn’t weighted to confirm that form and it will require even more to land his biggest prize yet.
THEINVAL: Looked in need of the run on his reappearance at Ascot and one of the more lively outsiders on the pick of his form, a second place behind Two Taffs in a valuable race at Ayr in April. Needs more again here but travels well and appeals as the sort to run a big race.
ROMAIN DE SENAM: Second runner for Paul Nicholls and another leading contender having rattled off back-to-back wins at Chepstow and Stratford last month (beating Double Shuffle at the former). Likely he has more to give and isn’t easily dismissed,
STARCHITECHT: Looked as good as ever when winning on reappearance at Stratford and long appealed as the type to pick up a valuable pot over fences. Stable do very well in this race and his form stacks up. Remains well handicapped on pick of his hurdles form and another for a lengthening shortlist.
BALLYALTON: Won the 2016 Close Brothers here and having only second start since when finishing sixth over timber at Aintree on reappearance. Clearly that was a prep for this and trainer couldn’t be in better form. Many shrewd judges are siding with him.
AQUA DUDE: Claimed a first win over fences in a maiden chase at Uttoxeter on reappearance and is likely to be suited by the demands of this race. However it’s by far his most searching examination over the larger obstacles and others make more appeal.
BENTELIMAR: Showed some useful form in Ireland and looks an interesting recruit for Charlie Longsdon but is pitched in at the deep end here, and his big days are likely to be later in the campaign
PLAISIR D’AMOUR: Enjoyed a good novice season, including picking up a valuable mares’ pot here in the spring. Unlikely we’ve seen the best of her yet although the suspicion remains she’s at her very best on more testing ground than she’ll encounter here.
GUITAR PETE: Slowly returning to his best for Nicky Richards and very impressive when slamming useful yardstick Sametegal at Wetherby last time. A Grade One performer in his juvenile hurdle days, he makes plenty of appeal from his current chase mark. Has a great racing weight too.
SPLASH OF GINGE: Possibly needed the run when fourth behind Guitar Pete at Wetherby but isn’t the easiest to predict and the likelihood is this will be all too competitive for his liking.
MYSTIFIABLE: Didn’t run badly behind Romain De Senam at Chepstow given a bad mistake three out but even so hard to think of why he’ll reverse form here – especially as he can be a weak finisher, a trait the Cheltenham hill will ruthlessly expose.
LAKE TAKUPANA: Hard to enthuse over – even on the pick of his form in Ireland – and would be a huge shock if he was to come home in front here.
VERDICT: A very open renewal and easy to make a case for any number of these. Both the Paul Nicholls pair of Le Prezien and Romain De Senam appeal as potential winners along with Tully East and Starchitect but on value grounds I’m siding with GUITAR PETE. He looked back on song at Wetherby last time and has the ability to make them all go from the foot of the handicap.