Alan Dudman - Two double-figure selections for Gold Cup day
Albert Bartlett (14:50) - Back OK Corral using Each-Way Edge
As a relation to the great Tidal Bay (and my favourite horse of all time), it was always going to be a short price that I would be interested in following OK Corral - and having fancied him for the Coral Cup ante-post, he was then priced-up for the Martin Pipe.
He also held an entry in the Ballymore - so I've finally caught up with him in the Albert Bartlett. I feel like I have been chasing an umbrella in the wind. It's interesting with all those options (and he looked very well-handicapped from 144), that connections have gone down this route and trip.
In terms of the stamina; OK Corral enjoyed the step up in distance last time at Kempton - a race where he dotted up by seven lengths. Mind you, he had plenty of pace to win over two miles at that track previously, and he's never been beaten at Kempton in three visits.
He's bred to stay, with not only Tidal, but also a Scottish Grand National winner in his pedigree.
He has taken a while to grow up and fill his huge frame, so it's encouraging he has put together a couple of runs in quick succession prior to Cheltenham. His bumper form was high class; as he beat High Bridge (now rated 148), and was second to Yorkhill at Punchestown. He can make up for lost time.
Foxhunters' (16:10) - Pacha can repeat his success
Just about the most reliable horse running at the Festival is Pacha Du Polder. If you are looking for something to jump around and stay well at the track he likes, quite a few will go for the veteran. Although I understand quite a few often leave this race alone. This and the Cross Country.
The market will centre around Wonderful Charm - who was a fast-finishing second in this last year behind Pacha Du Polder, and Wonderful Charm was the horse nominated by Paul Nicholls as his best chance at the Festival. He'll need to be in a better position to attack than he was 12 months ago.
I'll stick with "Pach", though, as he has had his prep at Doncaster prior to this, and he did look a bit rusty there. He only had the one run before last term's success at Bangor, so we can expect a fitter horse here.
He stays so well and is a super safe jumper. He is too big in price to win the crown again.
Alan Thompson - Two each way selections on the final day
County Handicap Hurdle (14:10) - Gigginstown lightweight demands respect
A horse that was highly touted when he arrived from France is the Gigginstown owned Duca De Thaix. He was talked about being a Triumph horse for the 2017 festival but those plans never happened as he never ran last season. Gordon Elliot's patience paid off though when he won a Grade 3 at Christmas in heavy ground. He wasn't so impressive on his next start at the same level but with a mark of just 136, a tilt at one of the handicaps was always going to be on the cards at the festival this time rather than one of the novice events.
I am sure they thought long and hard over which race to put him in but the fact that they have chosen this one is good enough for me to back him at 15/2 with six places using the each way edge facility.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (14:50) - Fergal O'Brien can get a tune out of Poetic Rythym
Poetic Rhythm didn't manage to win a single race over hurdles from four attempts last term, but he was highly tried after his listed bumper win at Cheltenham in November 2016. He shaped well behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Pingshou on his hurdling debut, before stepping up to finish third in a listed race and then third again in a Grade 2 Novices Hurdle at the end of January, both those runs were here at Cheltenham.
He has a little more experience than most in this, having run six times in pointers before appearing under rules, but he is certainly moving in the right direction. He comes into this on the back of a 76 day break but he goes well fresh, two of his wins have come after being off the course for 149 and 214 days so there will be no problems there.
He has a great attitude and will fight to the finish which are exactly the credentials that will be needed here and at 11/1 he is worthy of an each way investment.
Nick Shiambouros - Big Day for Henderson
Triumph Hurdle (13:30) - Farclas the value bet
Farclas is the Each-Way Edge bet today.
This gelding ran a blinder on only his second start when finishing second to Mr Adjudicator at Leopardstown last month. He fought tooth and nail with the winner on the run-in, and was only denied near the line. The front two finished a country mile ahead of the third place finisher. Trainer Gordon Elliott will have this progressive individual spot on for this assignment, and I will be surprised if he does not make the frame at the very least. He is attractively priced Each Way Edge 4 places at 5/1.
The unbeaten filly Apple's Shakira is the favourite at 3.02/1 on the exchange. She clearly has more to offer, but this is by far her toughest assignment to date.
Gold Cup (15:30) - Might Bite to deliver Gold
Might Bite should go very close in this historic race.
This smart performer won the King George impressively in December. He pulled clear on the run to the third from home and quickly put the issue beyond doubt. He began to idle two from home, but was never in any real danger, and was well on top in the closing stages. A lot has been made of his quirks, but he is the best chaser around in my opinion and represents super value at 5.79/2 on the exchange.
Our Duke could be the danger. He defeated Presenting Percy on his latest start at Gowran last month. The form was boosted when the runner-up won the RSA on Wednesday. At present he is trading at 6.05/1 on the exchange.