Bravemansgame can come out on top for Britain
Bravemansgame - 13:20 Cheltenham
Bob Olinger has been all the rage leading up to the Ballymore, but him, Bravemansgame and Gaillard du Mesnil have all achieved a similar level of form, and preference is for the second-named at the prices. Bravemansgame was beaten by Soaring Glory on debut, but has done nothing but progress to win all three starts since, and it was hard not to be impressed by his demolition job in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury last time. This has been his target since and this powerful galloper will be well suited by the demands of this.
Monkfish one of the bankers of the week
Monkfish - 13:55 Cheltenham
Monkfish announced himself on the big stage when winning the Albert Bartlett (by a neck from Latest Exhibition) at last year's Cheltenham Festival and has made a seamless transition to fences this season. He wasn't as high profile as Envoi Allen and Shishkin at the start of the campaign, but he has proved himself every bit as exciting, winning each of his three starts over fences with a fair bit in hand. His jumping has been a particular highlight, and he has dismissed of old foe Latest Exhibition the last twice, looking every inch a top prospect. Monkfish looks one of the bankers of the week and is hard to oppose.
Three in a row for Henderson?
Craigneiche - 14:30 Cheltenham
Nicky Henderson has won the last two renewals of the ultra-competitive Coral Cup and launches a three-pronged attack in search of a hat-trick. The one that stands out, though, is the lightly-raced Craigneiche, who built on the promise of his hurdling debut when landing the odds in a maiden at Doncaster on his final start last season. It was the manner of his success on handicap debut at Ascot in January that marks him out as a big player, though, dismantling a well-run handicap in the style of one way ahead of his mark. Craigneiche was easy to back in the market, too, suggesting he was expected to come on for it, and though he lacks the experience of some of these, a subsequent 12 ln rise in the weights may underestimate this unexposed sort.
Mullins can win his first Champion Chase
Chacun Pour Soi - 15:05 Cheltenham
Chacun Pour Soi sets a very healthy standard on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings here and you could argue he should be even shorter in the betting. He has produced a couple of outstanding displays on his last two starts, putting the race to bed in a matter of strides between the last two fences in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last time, and there shouldn't be anything in this field that can get near him. This will be his first start at Cheltenham, but he has plenty of class, so it shouldn't be a problem, and he is another strong selection.
Hard to see past Easysland on these terms
Easysland - 15:40 Cheltenham
Easysland saw off Tiger Roll to win this last year and with the dual Grand National winner seemingly not the force of old at 11 it's hard to see David Cottin's charge not doubling up. Admittedly, he was below form when only fourth to Kingswell Theatre in a handicap over course and distance in November, but he was reportedly short of fitness, and meets that rival on much more favourable terms now.
Ibleo still on the up
Ibleo - 16:15 Cheltenham
A few of these are potentially well handicapped but Ibleo is arguably the most progressive in the field so could still be ahead of his mark. He finished runner-up to Amoola Gold and Sky Pirate on his first two starts this season, but has gained due reward since, and looked a handicapper to keep on the right side when winning with plenty in hand at Doncaster last time. A subsequent 7 lb rise doesn't look excessive given the rate of knots he is progression, and a well-run two miles round here will be right up his street.
Mullins holds a very strong hand
Kilcruit - 16:50 Cheltenham
Expect Willie Mullins to dominate this once again, with Kilcruit taken to get the better of new stablemate Sir Gerhard in a tantalising clash. Both look hugely-promising, but it's not hard to side with Kilcruit, who looked very special when a most impressive winner of a bumper for many a year in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown last time, which was also landed by the 2018 and 2019 winners of this race.