Simon Holt sticks with top weight Frodon as he looks to point you in the right direction of a few winners on Saturday.
Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham will provide a re-match between the first three in last month's BetVictor Gold Cup and, after two tremendous performances on Cheltenham's New Course in the past, FRODON is taken to come out on top this time and defy top weight.
In the November meeting's feature race (run on the slightly tighter Old Course), Baron Alco put up a tremendously game display of front-running before holding off the rallying Frodon by two lengths with Guitar Pete, last year's winner of this race and now just 3lb higher, staying on into third eight lengths further back.
Baron Alco also boasts good form on the New Course including a second to Road To Respect at the 2017 Festival, but Frodon's victory in this race in 2016 and a devastating wide-margin win over the course and distance last January sways me in his favour with a 3lb pull at the weights.
Disappointing on his last two starts here in the spring, Paul Nicholls' superb jumper appears to have greatly benefited from wind surgery during the off-season, returned with victory in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and is now bordering on top class.
It won't be easy, some would say too difficult, off a mark of 164, but Bryony Frost gets a great tune out of Frodon and, with several rivals to be forced into mistakes by the likely strong gallop (as they were in the BetVictor), his running style and faultless fencing should facilitate another strong performance.
In truth, Baron Alco has the same sort of credentials and certainly deserves a 10lb rise since his first run of the season when beaten a head by last week's Peterborough Chase winner Charbel at Chepstow. Like the selection, he too is a totally admirable chaser though he may have had the harder race last time.
Guitar Pete might have been a slightly fortunate winner of this race last year as Starchitect held a clear lead when tragically breaking down before the second last, but the grey's trainer Nicky Richards couldn't be in better form and it's just a question of whether he can lay up a bit better and not give himself so much to do in the closing stages.
In the BetVictor, Rather Be appeared to be travelling well before being unluckily brought down four out and, a line through the eventual fourth Mr Whitaker who beat him a head getting 6lb at the Festival last March suggests he would have finished close to Frodon.
Much will depend how he has recovered from that unfortunate incident while stable-companion Casablanca Mix is not discounted after her recent second to Ron's Dream over a possibly too-far three miles at Market Rasen last month was boosted by third-placed Atlanta Ablaze earlier this week.
The other horse which really takes the eye is Alan King's French import Full Glass who was still in contention when blundering Daryl Jacob away at the fourth last in the race won impressively by Activial at Haydock on only his second run for the yard.
One suspects that he could be better than a rating of 142, but his trainer wants some cut in the ground for him and, while rain is forecast (a 40% chance from 7am according to my weather app), a deluge may be required to really ease going currently described as "good".
Later, a chance is taken with BRILLARE MOMENTO improving on some decent course form in the OLBG.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle.
Martin Keighley's mare has won on both the Old and New courses on good ground and a defeat of Dusky Legend, Verdana Blue and Casablanca Mix over the course and distance in April 2017 would give her outstanding claims.
A bit below that form subsequently, Brillare Momento was nonetheless far from disgraced when eighth of 23 behind Blow By Blow in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at the Festival here in March and was pulled up quickly after a first flight blunder on her latest visit in October.
Visored for the first time and reunited with Harry Stock (claims 5lb), who won on her at Towcester last February, she looks good value at the odds available.
At Doncaster, another mare IRISH ROE can take the beating in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle in which the likely strong gallop should suit her well.
Something of a course specialist having won twice on Town Moor in this corresponding race and then beating subsequent County Hurdle winner Mohaayed, Peter Atkinson's stable-star also ran a blinder to finish a close second to the smart Maria's Benefit, again at Doncaster.
Irish Roe returned with a third to Lady Buttons (good winner over fences since) at Wetherby and had yet to be asked a question albeit a little off the pace when falling at the final flight (usual two out) in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last time.
These look much calmer waters and, with Cliffs Of Dover and possibly Chieftain's Choice likely to hare off in the early stages, jockey Henry Brooke will be able to bide his time on this smooth traveller.
Posted at 1630 GMT on 14/12/18.