Simon Holt feels there is value in opposing reigning champion Paisley Park in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle on Thursday - he has five tips in total.
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The one result at Cheltenham this week which would enjoy almost universal approval is a third Festival win for FAUGHEEN in Thursday's Marsh Novices' Chase.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle hero, who also won the Neptune Novices' Hurdle (now the Ballymore) a year earlier, will be making his fifth appearance at the meeting and, judging by the reception he received when winning for the third time over fences at Leopardstown last time, another victory will steal the show.
Third at last year's meeting behind Paisley Park in the Stayers' Hurdle as an 11-year-old, Faugheen is showing few signs of deterioration and, if he can overcome the odd sketchy jump which has been a feature of his career over both hurdles and fences, he looks the class act.
Certainly, his battling defeat of Easy Game at the Dublin Racing Festival was a highly respectable performance given the runner-up had beaten Allaho on his previous start, so the stage is set for something special.
Stable companion Melon could be one of the chief threats as, while a shade disappointing behind Notebook and Cash Back last time, he boasts a fine record at this meeting having finished second in a Supreme and two Champion Hurdles.
Leading the home challenge is last year's Supreme third Itchy Feet who was impressive when beating Midnight Shadow in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown and, while his jumping was not perfect, he showed a good turn of foot.
On this day last year, Frodon and Paisley Park provided a memorable spectacle when landing the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers' Hurdle respectively which, because of the stories attached to the two horses, has become known as 'The Golden Hour.'
Whether it will be the same heart-warming crowd-pleaser again, however, may be too much to ask. Frodon has seemed a bit below his best this season, though now returns to the course which suits his sublime jumping so well.
He has been treated for serious stomach ulcers but, up against the likes of A Plus Tard and Min, may need to better last year's defeat of Aso.
Both Irish challengers boast good Festival form, and Min certainly deserves a win after two seconds behind Altior, but it's hard to choose between them and, if there is to be an upset, SAINT CALVADOS could just provide it.
Hugely promising early on in his chasing career, Harry Whittington's strapping gelding proved too keen when raised in class but he is switching off better now under less aggressive tactics, and put up perhaps the performance of his career when splitting Oldgrangewood and Lalor under top weight in a hot handicap over this course and distance on New Year's Day.
An earlier victory here this season under 11st12lb also confirms his liking for Cheltenham, and there is a big day in him.
Paisley Park is one of the so-called 'bankers' of the week and will start a short price to retain his Stayers' crown.
Emma Lavelle's stable star always seems to get the job done even if looking outpaced during his races on occasions and is impossible to criticise after seven straight victories.
Yet past Festival winner SUMMERVILLE BOY (2018 Supreme) was beaten only a length and a quarter by the favourite in the Cleeve Hurdle here at the end of January staying on well up the hill on his first try at three miles.
And, given the small margin between the two horses, Tom George’s revived gelding looks worth an interest to me at many times the odds.
Later, the admirably tough mare HAPPY DIVA can continue her solid course record in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.
Kerry Lee's charge has finished first or second in three of four starts at Cheltenham and looked likely to figure in last season's BetVictor Gold Cup only to be brought down four out.
In this term's renewal, Happy Diva enjoyed better fortune and was the beneficiary of Slate House's fall at the second last after which she went on to beat Brelan D'As and Warthog (a winner next time).
Slate House has done well since (going up 8lb) and the selection narrowly missed out against Lady Buttons next time at Doncaster after which, possibly feeling a hard race, she ran a bit flat at Ascot. Now, freshened up and back at Cheltenham, Happy Diva can prove good each-way value.
Finally, LE BREUIL could be set to follow up last year's Four-Mile National Hunt Chase win in another race for amateur riders, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
The mount of Festival specialist Jamie Codd (who notched up another success aboard Ravenhill on Tuesday), Ben Pauling's strong stayer is back on a winning mark after three defeats this season.
Last time, Le Breuil, who is probably best when racing prominently, blew the start at Warwick and could never get involved, but he is another horse with a fine record at Cheltenham and, in a much compressed handicap, concedes a maximum of just 10lb under 11st12lb.
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