Gaillard du Mesnil - 17:30 Cheltenham
Gailard du Mesnil is my idea of the banker of the week in the National Hunt Chase. A second-season novice, he was only beaten five and a quarter lengths in third by L'Homme Presse in an above-average renewal of the Broadway at the Festival last season and he ran a cracker when third in the Irish Grand National on his next start.
He has seemingly always been held in high regard by connections and he deservedly opened his account over fences in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels (Fort Leney) Novices' Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, relishing a return to three miles and always looking like the winner.
Gaillard du Mesnil is best not judged on his latest run when just under 10 lengths behind Mighty Potter in the Scalp Novices' Chase back at Leopardstown last time, finding the test an inadequate one back in trip and on better ground and I am very confident we will see him in a different light now. He has much the best form of these, will have no problem with the track or ground, and is guaranteed to stay this longer trip. Anything even money or above looks a knocking bet.
Brandy Love - 16:10 Cheltenham
The Mares' Hurdle looks a cracking renewal on paper with a couple of Champion Hurdle winners in Epatante and Honeysuckle and last year's winner Marie's Rock in the mix, and that is without mentioning Echoes In Rain, who was a Grade 1 winner as a novice and has plenty of form at the top level in open company.
However, for me, the most exciting horse in the line-up is Brandy Love, and I think she is fairly priced. She handed out an eight-length beating to Love Envoi at Fairyhouse on her final start last season but she suffered a couple of setbacks afterwards. However, I thought she shaped with plenty of promise on her return to action at Punchestown around three weeks ago.
Brandy Love had to give plenty of weight away all round and once again left the impression that she will be seen to much better effect at a left-handed track. She is bound to have come on plenty for that outing, the ground, track and trip will be in her favour, and it is worth remembering how lightly raced she is. If there is one who can bridge the gap it is more than likely her.
Monbeg Genius - 14:50 Cheltenham
British-trained runners have a good record in the Ultima and Monbeg Genius fits the bill for me as a progressive novice who arrives on a roll.
He was well backed for his return and chasing debut at Aintree, but lacked sharpness, and he has done nothing but build on that effort since, completing a hat-trick in smooth fashion at Chepstow last month.
Monbeg Genius was probably value for extra than the winning margin on that occasion, too, once more impressing with his accurate jumping and having too much in the locker for a well-handicapped, back-to-form rival who won next time out. This will be tougher and it will be the biggest field he has contested, but he is a likeable type who still looks well handicapped following an 8 lb rise.