Moore of that
Despite 2021 being fairly tedious for the average Joe, Gary Moore has continued his fine form into the new year and has a handful of horses worth keeping an eye on this weekend.
Having produced nine winners from his last 42 runners, a 21% return isn't to be sniffed at.
Moore absolutely mopped up on the all-weather at Lingfield's jumpers' bumper a couple of weeks back, producing three winners and two seconds. This also included Distingo at 10/1, who came flying home to miss out by a head to Nigel Twiston-Davies well fancied favourite in Superkalanistic.
The following day saw Moore come away from Exeter two from two, including the shock win of the day when Ruby Yates came from turning home in last place to first, winning at 16/1, beating Harry Fry's heavily backed favourite Mille Sussurri in the process.
It hasn't stopped there either for the Moore yard, as Zhiguli hacked up at Plumpton this week, and was expected to run on Friday at Huntingdon, until racing was abandoned due to flooding. Rest assure though, that Moore more will be looking for the right race for him to land back to back wins.
With the weekend in sight, his attention very much turns to Cheltenham. He holds two entries in the Triumph Hurdle, with Nassalam the yards first string at 15/8. Hudson De Grugy will also tackle the Grade 2 event and is 16/1 to prevail. Those who were stung by Ruby Yates at Exeter will know all too well to not discount Moore's outsider.
Benatar is entered in the Cheltenham Trophy Handicap at 13:50, and despite placing at Cheltenham back in December last year, he finished 27 lengths off the winner. That run was his first in almost a year, and with a few cobwebs now blown off, the nine-year-old could certainly show more this time round.
Skelton's outside duo
Another trainer enjoying a run of form, Dan Skelton heads to Cheltenham with six winners from his last 31. However, both of his runners this weekend are outsiders in the Triumph Hurdle.
Both Cabot Cliffs and Leylak are available at 25/1 due to their limited experience, but with the yard currently performing on the big stage, there could be each way value in either of his horses.
Last weekend Skelton's superstar Roksana showed her class in the Mares' Hurdle at Ascot, bolting up in style, before Faivoir won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle over a Haydock later that day.
Roksana is now amongst the favourites to win the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with her odds cut in half after her performance at Ascot.
There was also a lot to like about Benny's King second in the Handicap Chase at Ascot, who was unable to reel in Jeremy Scott's ever improving Dashel Drasher, but the front three finished clear of the rest and Skelton's yard is clearly in good nick at present.
Troublesome 2021 for Tizzard
Colin Tizzard can't seem to catch a break this year, having failed to land a winner with his last 22 entries. Three out of his last six runners have pulled up, whilst four horses priced 11/4 or shorter have also failed to get their head in front.
It isn't pretty reading for Tizzard at the moment and it's hard to strongly recommend him for the Cheltenham Cotswold Chase on Saturday.
Native River (pictured, above) had almost ten months off before finishing third in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December. That run was very much needed, but this weekend he will need to be at the top of his game, especially up against Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai and Gold Cup runner up, Santini.
Currently 10/3, Native River is back where he performs best, but with the yard yet to have a winner in 2021, it isn't an easy pitch for one of Tizzard's star horses.