There will be Festival clues aplenty from Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday but it's a high class day of racing in its own right and Tony Calvin has cast his eye over the card for the best big priced bets, as well as thoughts on the race of the day at Doncaster...
"He really does interest me at the price, and the fact that his trainer immediately nominated this race as his likely next target in the Kempton winners' enclosure is another plus. I like trainers who think one step ahead, especially after their horse has won at 20/1, which suggests he wasn't totally unexpected."
Take the Roman road in the Steeple Chase
I'm hoping that all the talk will be focused on Willie Mullins in the winners' enclosure after the 14:25 at Cheltenham on Saturday - even though he doesn't have a runner.
Because that will mean his former inmate Un Beau Roman, now with Paul Henderson, has recorded a career-best performance in taking the £60,000 prize, and at what are sure to be attractive odds, too.
Back him at 15.014/1 for better.
In fact, you can argue that the horse has already left his form for Mullins behind courtesy of his 20/1 win at Kempton last time, only the second run for Henderson and the first for him over fences.
He showed the odd solid piece of form in Ireland - notably when second of 17 over 2m2f at Galway in August, though he finished second in small-field Grade 2/3 novice chases - but the manner of his four-and-a-half length defeat of Galway Jack in a good time at Kempton suggests that could have been an improved performance.
The runner-up returned to the track to run a good second on Monday, and a 5lb rise for the win is very fair.
The extra 2f or so concerns me here, as he didn't appear to last home when tried over 2m5f-3m in Ireland, but perhaps the forcing tactics they normally employed there weren't to his liking, and he seemed to benefit from a hold-up ride last time.
He really does interest me at the price, and the fact that his trainer immediately nominated this race as his likely next target in the Kempton winners' enclosure is another plus. I like trainers who think one step ahead, especially after their horse has won at 20/1, which suggests he wasn't totally unexpected.
Djakadam is beatable
The more I look at the Betbright Trial Chase at 13:50 the more I think the odds-on favourite Djakadam is opposable. It is a very strong race.
Don't get me wrong, last year's Gold Cup runner-up is obviously a very worthy favourite and he was seriously impressive when winning the John Durkan on his return. And I think he would have the pace win a Ryanair, if connections wanted to do down that route at the Festival.
But, as it stands, he doesn't have much in hand of last year's winner Many Clouds, and in fact he has to give 4lb to Hennessy winner Smad Place, who is officially rated only 2lb his inferior.
Both of those horses are big rivals to Djakadam - hopefully, Smad Place will be allowed to attack from the front again - but it's probably a race to sit out and watch.
However, I also thought Sam Winner ran a very encouraging race in the Charlie Hall, though the subsequent absence is a concern, and O'Faolains Boy is clearly no mug either in these conditions, not to mention the improving Wakanda.
In summary, I would be sorely tempted to oppose Djakadam if he went 1.51/2 or shorter to lay on the Exchange on Saturday - and, if he does, I probably will.
Having the field running for you at 2/1 looks a pretty attractive option.
Chef D'Oeuvre a tasty option
I am keen to take on Shantou Village on account of the ground, and Yanworth at the trip on the ground, in the Neptune Trial at 15:00.
Even though it's a race with plenty of depth that pair dominate the market and both have very strong form claims, but they can be taken on at the prices for the above reasons, and Chef D'Oeuvre at 12.011/1 could be the one to take advantage if those potential weaknesses materialise.
And, who knows, perhaps Chef D'Oeuvre is good enough anyway.
He doesn't show a lot at home but his career to date indicates that the deeper the ground the better for him, and it is possible to rate his 28 length defeat of Krugermac at Lingfield last month not far off those of the principals.
He is apparently seen as more of an Albert Bartlett prospect, but it could feel more like than 3m than 2m4f in these conditions, and he is worth an interest at the price.
The Cleeve Hurdle at 15:35 looks a straight match between Thistlecrack and Camping Ground, and I'll be disappointed if Colin Tizzard's odds-on favourite is not up to winning this, so good did he look at Ascot.
I'd be more worried about very testing ground more than his poor run at this track last season, but neither concerns me unduly. But he clearly isn't a bet at the likely prices.
Big day for Who Dares Wins
Outside of the C4 races at Cheltenham, there are no end of interesting contests, and it is an important day for my 20-1 ante-post Triumph Hurdle bet Who Dares Wins in the 12:40.
He meets strong opposition, and has to give weight to some of them given his runaway Grade 2 Doncaster win earned him a 7lb penalty here, but I am reasonably confident that he can enhance his Festival claims with a win. But not bet-inducingly confident, admittedly.
Ideally, I think he may want better ground - though he clearly handled the heavy ground well last time - but this stiffer track should certainly suit him, being an 85-rated 1m6f winner on the Flat.
There are some unexposed and highly dangerous opponents ranged against him though, not least wide-margin Newbury winner Clan Des Obeaux, so I am not getting involved in the day-of-race market.
Olofi would be my one against the field in the 16:10 - and he is likely to be an attractive price - but I will stick to my C4-only brief for once.
Add Gullinbursti to Skybet Chase porfolio
Ikorodu Road is our 25/1 each way ante-post selection for the Skybet Chase at Doncaster at 15:15 and I am more than happy with that position, even if his price has changed little.
Harry Skelton takes the ride and let's hope he doesn't put up too much overweight - none would be ideal - at 10st, as that his minimum.
I will have a saver with Gullinbursti at 16.015/1 or better, though.
The lack of action, and form, from the Emma Lavelle yard this month is an obvious concern. But this horse ran well enough after a long absence at Ascot last month, and the handicapper has dropped him a generous 4lb.
That makes him very well-handicapped on his form of two seasons ago, and the visor he wore when running an excellent third at Aintree in April 2014 just three starts ago is back on here, after being left off at Ascot.
Nothing appeals in the 14:05 or the Albert Bartlett trial at 14:40 in which the smash-up between Barters Hill and Up For Review is must-watch material, but a race easy to pass on from a betting point of view.
Good luck with your punting.
Back Un Beau Roman at 15.014/1 or better in the 14:25 at Cheltenham
Back Chef D'Oeuvre at 12.011/1 or better in the 15:00 at Cheltenham
Back Gullinbursti at 16.015/1 or better in the 15:15 at Doncaster
Back Ikorodu Road at 25-1 each-way ante-post (Sportsbook) in the 15:15 at Doncaster