We pick out five early fancies for the three-day November Meeting at Cheltenham which starts on Friday afternoon.
Pingshou (Colin Tizzard)
Pinshou's chasing debut is eagerly anticipated and while these strong novice events are bound to prove seriously competitive and a bit of a baptism of fire, he could prove a cut above whichever race he goes for.
Colin Tizzard's horse was a Grade One winner at the 2017 Grand National Festival at Aintree, where he looked like a future chaser in the making.
His Cheltenham form is also quite strong as he beat William Henry here in a novice hurdle at the December meeting, while conditions should be absolutely ideal with a relatively warm, dry week forecast.
Dinons (Gordon Elliott)
Gordon Elliott’s charge has taken to hurdles like a duck to water – a hurdling debut fall at Bellewstown notwithstanding – and he brushed aside concerns that he might just be a summer romance when running out an authoritative winner at this venue’s Showcase meeting last month.
Previous victories at Sedgefield and Perth had suggested Dinons might find things tougher once the winter horses returned to the fold but he cruised through his race last time before drawing clear from a fair field in the manner of a very smart performer.
Though Friday’s step up in class promises to test him like never before, he is progressing rapidly and could have too many guns and nous for an inexperienced field in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Rock The Kasbah (Philip Hobbs)
Having a run under the belt heading into the hugely competitive November Meeting can always play a major role and, with the Philip Hobbs yard absolutely flying, Rock The Kasbah rates an interesting prospect in the big stayers' handicap chase on Saturday.
The eight-year-old has all the attributes to succeed in marathon chases, with the Welsh National likely to be among his targets this year having won twice at Chepstow in the past.
It was there that he made his seasonal return last month and he shaped well enough in sixth, despite being sent off the 2/1 favourite.
He's currently rated 2lb lower than when second in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on the final day of last season and that's definitely a workable mark based on the pick of his hurdles form.
Mister Whitaker (Mick Channon)
Mick Channon the trainer is better known for his exploits on the Flat but Mister Whitaker gave his stable a day to remember when gamely landing the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, and he made a smooth winning reappearance at Carlisle recently.
That should have put this bold jumper spot on for a return to Prestbury Park and despite his handicap mark rising to 152, he remains open to significant improvement after only six chase starts and looks to be peaking just at the right time for Saturday’s big race.
Click on the image below for Sky Bet's live BetVictor Gold Cup odds...
Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland)
Dr Richard Newland is another trainer whose horses should all be monitored closely at the moment and Le Patriote comes into the Greatwood Hurdle on the back of a career best, and with the major promise of more to come.
He went into a lot of notebooks with a victory at Ascot back in February and although things went awry in the Imperial Cup at Sandown the following month, he looks to have picked up the thread again this term.
He justified strong market support to score at Ayr earlier this month, suggesting a subsequent 6lb rise might underestimate his current rate of progression.
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