1.30 Triumph Hurdle

Ivanovich Gorbatov looks to have drifted to a perfectly decent price on the strength of that first very impressive win. I think, as with many horses, the ground at Leopardstown was a perfectly feasible excuse. He is reportedly not the easiest to keep right as regards his feet and jumping out that ground looked a challenge. On a sound surface I would fully expect his Flat speed to come to the fore against a field largely made up of horses for the future. Who Dares Wins may well be an interesting opponent at a bigger price given he did far too much early in a trial race here in January.
Ivanovich Golbatov - 1pt @ 11/2

2.10 County Hurdle

This could be another one for Willie Mullins, this time in the colours of JP McManus as Great Field was ridiculously impressive last time and it has been very difficult for the handicapper to know what to do with him. The way he moved through his last race in Ireland suggests to me that he could be a championship horse further down the line and if that’s the case he should be going very close here.
I will also be having a small each-way bet on Modus. You can forget his run in the Betfair Hurdle, it was a muddling race on soft ground and his fine effort in last year’s bumper makes him of considerable interest off today’s mark.
Great Field - 1pt @ 8/1

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

There is just the suspicion that the ground might be getting a little too quick for Barters Hill, for all that he won on a sound surface at Liverpool last year. Throw into the mix the rumours about his wellbeing earlier this week and he’s not one I would want to be taking short odds about. Therefore the Mullins-trained Gangster could well be the one. He is reportedly working very well and he has improved steadily through the season.
Gangster - 1pt @ 7/1

3.30 Gold Cup Chase

It might be my heart ruling my head but I honestly believe this is Cue Card’s year. I don’t really have any stamina concerns given how readily he spanked Silviniaco Conti off strong fractions in a Betfair Chase run on softish ground and whether or not Vautour was at his best in the King George, the fact that Cue Card could even beat a freakish horse like that over any distance makes me believe he is better than ever. He is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, loves a sound surface and his stable will be buoyed by the brilliant win of Thistlecrack yesterday.
Cue Card - 1pt @ 4/1

4.10 Foxhunter Chase

No prizes for originality here but I genuinely believe the price about On The Fringe is perfectly reasonable. He confirmed himself as one of the outstanding Hunter Chasers of modern times last year and he ran on the ‘excuses for everything’ day at Leopardstown, which was no sort of surface for a seasonal comeback. It is true to say that opponents from last year such as Paint The Clouds and Current Event might well fancy their chances of getting a bit closer on faster ground but On The Fringe is a dominant force in this discipline when on song, and I trust him to be just that.
On The Fringe - 1pt @ 3/1

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle

Last year’s Fred Winter winner Qualando looks a good bet in the Martin Pipe, a race that Paul Nicholls seems to have a curiously good record in. He’s not had much racing this season, remains feasibly handicapped and his young rider Harry Cobden is admirably cool. Laurium is also worth a small each-way bet at 25-1 as he has reportedly come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks.
Qualando - 1pt @ 10/1
Laurium - 0.5pts e/w @ 25/1

5.30 Grand Annual Chase

I’m going to have two stabs at this devilishly difficult Grand Annual. The first is Lough Kent, a strong traveller in his races, who should appreciate the strong pace and has been freshened up since disappointed in the autumn. Interestingly he was Nicky Henderson’s only entry in this race named in honour of his father. I can’t let Chris Pea Green go unbacked as he was travelling really well when falling four-out in this race last year and he might just have improved a bit since as he’s a big horse who might just have needed time to fill out his frame.
Lough Kent - 1pt @ 14/1
Chris Pea Green - 1pt @ 20/1