1.30 Chelteham

BRISTOL DE MAI, from a yard enjoying an excellent week, has looked tremendous since he has been stepped up in trip this season, winning with authority on his last three starts, including in a Sandown Grade 1 last time. His jumping has been exhilarating at times and he holds huge claims providing the quicker conditions don’t catch him out and he handles the track.
Outlander looks a huge threat given he travels strongly in his races and won convincingly at the top level at Leopardstown last month. He was a shade disappointing over hurdles at this meeting last year though and Bristol De Mai gains the nod.
Bristol De Mai - 1pt @ 5/1

2.10 Cheltenham

The JP McManus colours have adorned many a recent winner of this race and, with Leave At Dawn, Cup Final and If In Doubt dominating the head of the market, his representatives look sure to make an impact on this event. The first-named sports the hood and is trained by a very shrewd outfit so deserves respect, while Cup Final and IF IN DOUBT both won their respective qualifiers at Musselburgh and Wincanton so look tough to overlook.
If In Doubt was 5th in last year’s RSA Chase but his fencing has never truly convinced and he looked a happier conveyance TAGLIETELLE was 3rd to Cup Final last month and would have finished a good deal closer but for a bad blunder at the third last when he was still travelling well. He posted a fine run in last season’s Coral Cup and looks a major player with Gordon Elliott’s team among the winners with Diamond King yesterday.
If In Doubt - 0.5pt e/w @ 12/1
Taglietelle - 0.5pt e/w @ 16/1

2.50 Cheltenham

Connections of VAUTOUR courted controversy by targeting this race despite suggesting the Gold Cup was his only aim this week. That said many feel this event represents his best chance of victory given his stamina appeared to ebb away in the dying stages of the King George on Boxing Day. There are one or two unsettling rumours that he hasn't shone in his homework of late, but he would be near impossible to beat if in the same form as his romp in the JLT Chase 12 months ago.
Road To Riches is another to swerve the Gold Cup and he too looked to find the 3m trip beyond him at Leopardstown last time. He could be a huge danger with the ground in his favour.
Others to consider include the front-running Village Vic who should make a bold bid to make all and Taquin Du Seuil who bounced back to form in style at Warwick and looks to be peaking at the right time.
Vautour - 2pt @ 1/1

3.30 Cheltenham

THISTLECRACK has ascended to the head of the market for this prize following a terrific winter where he has displayed power, acceleration and class in his races. He again oozed quality on Trials Day in January and seems to go on any ground so sets a high standard for his rivals to surpass. Alpha Des Obeaux capsized when a length behind the selection at Aintree last spring but it's fair to say that his old adversary has improved a good bit since.
The ground looks spot on for last year's winner Cole Harden who looks sure to make another bold bid from the front, while the Paul Nicholls duo Saphir Du Rheu and Aux Ptits Soins are reported in rude health.
Thistlecrack - 2pt @ 6/4

4.10 Cheltenham

There looks a plentiful amount of pace in this race and it could pay to sit handy without becoming embroiled at the head of affairs. ART MAURESQUE could slot in just behind the front-runners and, providing there isn’t a ridiculous amount of water applied overnight, could take a hand given his decent track experience. A sound surface is crucial to his chance and he is narrowly preferred to the likes of Tenor Nivernais and to a lesser extent Kings Palace whose yard boast a brilliant record in this race.
John’s Spirit boasts a terrific Cheltenham record but most of his days in the sun have come on the Old Course rather than today’s track so Festival regular FINGAL BAY could be worth siding with to build on his win the Pertemps Hurdle Final two years ago.
The Philip Hobbs-trained 10-year-old sports a tongue tie and blinkers for the first time after a sluggish effort at Exeter, but today’s big field and better surface should be more to his liking.
Art Mauresque - 0.5pt e/w @ 14/1
Fingal Bay - 0.5pt e/w @ 12/1