Bobs Worth was an uncertain runner on Monday but with the ground turning in his favour he's on course and looks the star attraction of Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup this Saturday. Racing UK analyst Graham Cunningham feels Nicky Henderson's gelding is very much the one to beat.
"There are some very big scalps on his belt both over hurdles and fences now and the fact that he has never been beaten once he has forced his head in front over jumps surely suggests that his best is yet to come."
My two bobs worth on the Hennessy Gold Cup is that backing Bobs Worth with a view to trading out at around 2.56/4 in running is a perfectly sensible trading plan.
This year's field looks fairly light on potential Grade 1 chasers and, having worked through the race on Thursday night, the following points occur:
First, the pace should be true thanks to Alfie Spinner, Teaforthree, Fruity O'Rooney and last year's winner Carruthers. But none of the four are leading players on Timeform ratings and I'm inclined to agree with that view.
Second, Tidal Bay is bound to corner support on the back of an upbeat Paul Nicholls review. But if this mercurial veteran records a career best to defy a mark of 166 just a few weeks short of his 12th birthday then I'll pay out with a grudging smile.
Third, Roberto Goldback might just have shown his hand a little too early having been raised 12lb for an impressive Ascot win and the unexposed Hold On Julio and revitalised The Package make more appeal on these terms.
However, the more I examine the record of Bobs Worth the more I feel he has to go very close.
Granted, the highly-paid and hard working BHA handicappers don't let second season chasers into top handicaps anything like as lightly as they used to and Bobs Worth is racing from a mark (160) only 1lb below the one that the mighty Denman won his first Hennessy from back in 2007.
Make no mistake, Bobs Worth is no Denman at this stage. But in golfing parlance he's "sneaky good" for several reasons.
The form book shows that he's functional rather than flash, with none of his last five wins being gained by more than a couple of lengths.
However, there are some very big scalps on his belt both over hurdles and fences now and the fact that he has never been beaten once he has forced his head in front over jumps surely suggests that his best is yet to come.
Put simply, Bobs Worth is a high-class young chaser at his best going left handed who beat First Lieutenant fair and square in the RSA Chase at this year's Festival with Barry Geraghty merely waving the whip up the hill.
He's also just 2lb shy of being top rated on Timeform with the likelihood of more to come.
Put simply, Bob's Worth is certainly capable of winning this - but even if he comes up short I suspect he will go close enough for his backers to save their stake in the home straight.
Regular readers will be well aware that I have had more cracks at getting Big Buck's beaten over hurdles in this column than Excelebration had at Frankel on the Flat.
It never came right for Excelebration - and it probably won't for me if I keep opposing the most successful staying hurdler of all time - but there are a couple of interesting options on the rest of the Newbury card.
Call Me A Star is certainly worth an interest when she locks horns with Eleven Fifty Nine for the fourth time in the TBA Novices' Hurdle at 12.50.
The score is currently 2-1 in favour of Alan King's mare and although there has never been much between the pair Call Me A Star beat her old rival fair and square on her hurdling debut at Uttoxeter recently and will be alb better off this time.
Nicky Henderson's easy Haydock winner Ma Filleule is bound to attract plenty of support and is open to bundles of improvement, but Call Me A Star's form looks well up to going close at this level and her strong galloping style will be very well suited to the holding conditions on the hurdles track.
Last but not least this weekend, a positive word for the progressive Hunters Lodge in Newbury's opener at 12.15.
This gelding has shown himself a sound jumper and a strong stayer in winning two of his three starts over fences and he caught the eye galloping on powerfully up the hill having lost his place at Cheltenham two weeks ago.
The Cheltenham runner-up Sizing Santiago franked the Cheltenham form with a Newbury win on Thursday and Hunters Lodge, who gets on very well with his promising amateur rider Ryan Hatch, is well treated from just a 1lb higher mark and should be very well suited by this slightly longer trip.
Back Hunters Lodge in the 12.15 at Newbury and lay off at 3.02/1 in-running
Back Call Me A Star in the 12.50 at Newbury and lay off at 1.68/13 in-running
Back Bobs Worth in the 15.10 at Newbury and lay off at 2.56/4 in-running