We're at Cheltenham for the best of Saturday's ITV Racing action, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin is back with a quartet of recommended bets on the afternoon...
"However, he ran far more encouragingly in third than the beaten distance suggests, and the bonus is that the handicapper has dropped him 1lb for it."
West the big-price Approach in the feature
Let's cut straight to the chase for once - pardon the pun - and I am going in two-handed in the BetVictor Gold Cup at 14:25 and West Approach is easily the bigger-priced of the pair at 19.018/1 on the exchange.
In fact, maybe the way to go here is to back him at 16/1 each way - that is the best fixed-odds price around, at the time of writing - with the Betfair Sportsbook.
The handicapper believes he hasn't yet reached anything like his hurdles form over fences - his chase rating is some 15lb lower - but that could be about to change here in a big way.
This half-brother to Thistlecrack has indeed run some excellent races over hurdles - not least when third in the Cleeve here, and when unseating at the last in the Long Walk - but he has certainly hinted that he could yet reach those lofty levels in this sphere.
His Exeter novice chase victory over 2m3f was a very solid effort before he failed to cut the mustard in Grade 1 company thereafter but it was clearly his comeback effort over 3m1f here that points to his strong claims.
He travelled really strongly throughout the race, and he looked like he had the field in trouble from the front four out there, trading at 1.834/5 in running before being collared going to the second-last.
However, he ran far more encouragingly in third than the beaten distance suggests, and the bonus is that the handicapper has dropped him 1lb for it.
I think a strongly-run 2m4f around here will suit, and hopefully Richard Johnson will be happy to take a lead if required, as four or five of his rivals also like to go forward.
Colin Tizzard's horses could barely be in better form, and West Approach could prove to be very well-handicapped.
Fancied runner definitely worth a saver
I'm not sure that the form of Mister Whitaker's head defeat of Rather Be in the Close Brothers here is as strong as the market would have you believe - the runner-up has a 9lb pull here - and certainly the third, Rocklander, hasn't advertised the form since.
I'm not saying they cannot win, far from it, as both are unexposed and improving chasers. It is just that they are underpriced in my book.
There is a fair case that Kalondra should be favourite here, and he has to rate a saver at 8.27/1 or bigger.
His two best completed performances have both come at Cheltenham, albeit both were on the New Course.
He beat Festival winner Coo Star Sivola and Movewiththetimes convincingly under a 5lb penalty in December and he finished a fine third to Traffic Fluide here in April, and I am sure Noel Fehily would delay his challenge much later if he had the chance again. It was still strong form, anyway.
The jockey gets that opportunity here and, in a race that doesn't look to want for pace, he does so off what could be a very attractive handicap mark.
He is actually 3lb higher than that defeat but it is his run at Galway last time that suggests he could be very well treated here off just 148.
He was in the process of running a huge race when falling two out there, especially considering he was mixing it with Sub Lieutenant and Sandymount Duke, rated 158 and 155 respectively. And he was giving them 7lb, too.
If he had stood up there, it is highly likely that he would have been raised more than the 1lb that he was, and he probably should be heading the market. The strong-travelling King's Socks is another player, having had a wind op since his last run.
Vicente and Mysteree of interest
As regards the handicap chase at 13:50 Vicente was beaten a neck in this race by Perfect Candidate (who, surprisingly, doesn't wear his usual cheekpieces here) last year off a 1lb higher mark, and on his reappearance too, so theoretically he is not that badly treated.
I think his trainer Paul Nicholls may disagree on that front but the fact remains that he has won two Scottish Nationals off just a 3lb lower mark, too, so I would say he is weighted to be competitive.
He has a good record around here as well, but the problem is that this is a far deeper race than last year and Nicholls reports that he missed an intended engagement at Kelso recently because he wasn't quite ready.
Of course, he will have tuned him up since but I can give the race a pass. Mysteree is very interesting in first-time cheekpieces, as his trainer is two from six with this option in the last two years, but all his best form has come in far more testing ground.
Buckle wager could be right up our Street
Buckle Street interested me in the 3m handicap hurdle at 15:00 and that was before I saw that he was being tried in blinkers for the first time, and his trainer is 6 from 24 in this scenario in the past 10 years.
He is the outsider of the party, and I think he has far better claims than that. Back him at 21.020/1 or bigger.
I thought he shaped pretty well under today's 5lb claimer Harry Stock at Aintree last time and he has been dropped another 1lb for it.
That makes him just 1lb higher than when winning over 3m under Stock at Doncaster in February, and he makes a lot of appeal at his price. He is owned by the Condicote Clan, so presumably they are locals and this could have been a plan for a while.
The Eaglehaslanded is on a fair mark and ranks a danger, as do the more obvious duo of First Assignment and Anteros, winner of this race in 2016 and second last year.
Theatre can provide us with plenty of early drama
The only other race on ITV is the 2m5f handicap hurdle at 15:30 in which Speedo Boy looks to hold an obvious chance.
He is rated 98 on Flat, and just 118 over hurdles, so he could be thrown in. But he is pretty much priced accordingly, and a first-time tongue-tie has my alarm bells ringing a bit. Aye Right could give him most to do, but it's a very open race if Speedo Boy doesn't deliver.
The RUK races topping and tailing the card, the juvenile hurdle and the bumper, are undeniably interesting but they are probably better off just being watched.
I am very interested to see how Theatre Territory goes after a wind op in the 3m novices' chase at 13:15.
I wasn't going to have a bet in the race, as The Worlds End did look very good on his chasing debut at Chepstow and will take some beating, but Theatre Territory is getting 12lb from him and opened up 12/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook on Friday morning, which I thought was huge. She is still a double-figure price at the time of writing.
She is a very capable mare, who jumps brilliantly, and she showed she stays 3m when third at Kempton in a competitive handicap in February, and she has run two stormers around here behind Mister Whitaker and Ms Parfois.
Back her at 11.010/1 or bigger.
Tasty Flat action but no bets for me
Just when you thought that we could park the Flat for a while, up pop two all-weather qualifiers at Lingfield on ITV.
The Churchill Stakes at 14:45 certainly offers some high-class action with the likes of the 117-rated Addeybb in the line-up, though he carries a 7lb penalty for his Sandown Group 2 win in April.
Even with that burden he is clearly the best horse in here on official ratings, and this is obviously a big step down in class after taking in the Lockinge and the QEII on his last two starts.
He didn't run particularly well in either of those races though, and he is easily passed over at around 5/2, especially as the likes of last year's winner Master The World, who goes so well here, and a few others can be given a decent chance if the favourite is just a few pounds below his peak.
The 6f Listed race at 15:15 is also full of quality but I can't get overly-excited by either contest.
Gifted Master won this race from stall 12 last year and he will have to overcome a high draw again, but he is comfortably the highest-rated horse in the race and is unpenalised, as his two victories in 2018 have come in handicaps.
There is no surprise to see him head the market, but this doesn't appeal to me as a betting heat.
Good luck punting this weekend. I'll be back on Saturday with my thoughts on the Greatwood Hurdle and the rest of Cheltenham's card on Sunday.
Theatre Territory at 11.010/1 or bigger in 13:15 at Cheltenham
West Approach at 16/1 each way (five places) with Betfair Sportsbook in 14:25 at Cheltenham
Kalondra at 8.27/1 or better in 14:25 at Cheltenham
Buckle Street at 21.020/1 or bigger in 15:00 at Cheltenham