Tony is hoping to strike Gold at Musselburgh
A 40/1 each-way punt at Leopardstwon
It obviously pales in comparison to the Dublin Racing Festival, but the three ITV races at Musselburgh on Sunday are decent enough - very light on numbers, admittedly - so I will deal with them first, however briefly.
The ground is currently good to soft (good in places), with a dry forecast, though I see they put down 3mm down on Thursday night and I imagine there will be more to come.
Whether or not you agree with courses watering to maintain good to soft ground is debatable - and Sandown have been doing the same this week - but it is what it is.
Memories the pick but no bet
First up is the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at 13:22 and unfortunately 11 became six at the overnight stage (mind you, two of those were declared late on Thursday morning).
You can make a case for them all but Bringbackmemories has the most compelling form and time claims to my eye, as he returned from a three-month break to post an improved performance when winning here easily, beating a last-time out winner by 15 lengths, with a 90-rated newcomer from the Flat a further 26 lengths away in third.
That came on soft, but he had plenty of good ground form in Ireland, so he will be fine with whatever they have done with the watering can.
But, given his price and the unknowns surrounding the lightly-raced opposition, I can leave well alone.
Back Des Bois to strike Gold
The grandly-titled Scottish Champion Handicap Chase at 13:55 - it is a 0-140, after all - sees another runner for first-season trainer Harry Derham, as he has got his hands on his old boss and uncle's Fidelio Vallis.
We haven't seen him since December 2021, so it'll be serious family bragging rights if he can get this one to win on his first start since leaving Paul Nicholls, but the handicapper has given him every chance of doing so, dropping the 8yo 7lb for his modest last run/absence.
However, he likes to go forward, as do at least four of his rivals, so Gold Des Bois interests me more.
Now, he has made the running in the past too, but he can take a lead, as he showed with an excellent third at Doncaster just nine days ago.
The quick turnaround could be an issue but he has backed up well after just an 11-day break before, and that Doncaster form looks very strong, so a 2lb rise is bridgeable if he is in the same form. He has run well off higher marks than his revised level anyway.
The race in which he came third in last time was dripping with last-time-out winners, as the first, second, fifth and seventh went into the race on the back of victories (three of those were looking for a hat-trick) and Gold Des Bois has a decent course run to his name, too.
He isn't as sexy as some of these, as an exposed 9yo, but he has plenty going for him. Back him to small stakes at 7.06/1 or bigger. I reckon you'll get bigger on the exchange but I'll be looking for 5/1+.
Officer is tempting if price holds
The Scottish Supreme novices' hurdle at 14:25 obviously won't have any bearing on Cheltenham - the Grade 1s at least - but there are some decent horses in here all the same, for all it is not a betting race.
Dual course winner General Officer may have an 8lb penalty to overcome but he interested me most here, as he did very well to fail by only a length to defy a 10lb burden at Catterick last time, with the hat-trick seeking third well stuffed.
However, as with the first race, it is a tricky contest to call given the profiles of the opposition, particularly Dancila, a 90-rated purchase out of Jim Bolger's who is getting 5lb and more from the winners in here.
And Toothless is clearly a very hard horse to gauge after his runaway Fakenham win. I appreciate Paul Nicholls' horse has to be feared, but the first firm up made him a 5/6 chance (General Officer was 6/1), and that looks on the defensive side. I'll pass, though General Officer at 6s would be mighty tempting.
Fascinating Novices' Chase and Blue Lord should win the Dublin Chase
Right, over to Leopardstown and five ITV races, four of which are Grade 1s, which I will take in chronological order.
The 2m5f novices' chase at 13:40 is one of those many watch-not-bet races at this two-day Festival, and it promises to be a fair old tussle, not least tactically, for the likes of Mighty Potter, James Du Berlais and Gaiilard Du Mesnil.
The fact that they are stepping the latter back to 2m5f - and remember he traded at 1.51/2 in running when beaten by Mighty Potter in the Drinmore over 2m4f - will worry his National Hunt chase supporters, and should delight his Browns backers.
He'd be a strong favourite for the three-miler in my book, so they should go there with him.
However, I don't have a betting opinion in this but James Du Berlais obviously impressed in a Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse after a long absence, even if the second has been soundly beaten since and the third was chinned off a mark of 122 at Down Royal.
We can swiftly move on, and off, from the Dublin Chase at 14:10 as it will be a rather big surprise if Blue Lord is beaten here. Dunvegan may make the running from Gentleman de Mee, and hold on for second spot, but that's as far as my input goes here.
Can big-price Falco Blitz his rivals?
Falco Blitz is getting some of my cash at 40/1 each-way in the 2m5f handicap chase at 14:40. The Sportsbook are currently offering four places, but they may get more generous in the next 24 hours or so.
It takes a leap of faith to get with him on the evidence of his four runs this season, but he has come down to a mark of 132, he has shown some promise in one or two of those efforts, and hopefully the better ground (fingers crossed they lay off the watering on Saturday night) will suit him. This is his trip, too.
He had winning form on soft when with Nicky Henderson, so the ground isn't a major issue for him, but they always thought he was best on a better surface and he was rated 143 there at his peak.
As for his form this term, he was in midfield and still going well enough on the outside when unseating 3 out in the Munster National and this race could suit him, as he is a strong traveller when on song and, as I have said, this 2m5f is in the ballpark of his optimum trip.
I hope 7lb claimer Cian Quirke, who rides him, has a weekend to remember as I have already tipped his Saturday ride, Espion Du Chenet.
Cracking renewal of Irish Champion Hurdle
State Man v Honeysuckle v Vauban is clearly a great clash in the Irish Champion Hurdle at 15:10 but it hardly lends itself to a bet.
If I do have one, I may actually throw a few quid at Zanahiyr as his 2022 body of work - second in this race, third in the Champion Hurdle and scrapping with Epatante when coming down at the last at Aintree - does not entitle him to be totally dismissed here, back to 2m, at a massive 66/1 with the Sportsbook.
Another line before I move on.
If anyone tells you Vauban ran way above expectations when second to State Man on his return in the Matheson please point out he was very well found in the market that day, so plenty thought differently. At his price, he was probably stronger in the betting than the 4/6 winner.
Irish Point presence means Vega might not have a Facile victory
Facile Vega will get silly short for the Supreme if he wins the Grade 1 at 15:40 as expected, but it is not out of the realms of possibility that Irish Point can bustle him up.
In fact, this could well be a lot deeper than the Cheltenham race itself, as if he sees off this lot with ease, then I imagine they will all decline the re-match in March.
If High Definition's jumping improves then he clearly has the Flat class and 1m2f speed to figure, but I like the angle of Irish Point stepping down in trip after his second to Champ Kiely in the Lawlers Of Naas over 2m4f last time.
He travelled like a horse who will prove best at 2m for the time being and certainly his close second to Supreme second favourite Marine Nationale in the Royal Bond, with Ashroe Diamond and Champ Kiely behind, would give that some weight.
However, do I really want to betting in this race? No, not really.
Banntown can go two better than 12 months ago
One other race before I sign off then, and that is the opening mares' handicap hurdle 1t 13:10 and everyone has been shouting the name of Liberty Dance for this.
She could be as well-in as the stable's Party Central was when winning this race last year but I think the horse who finished third in that renewal, Banntown Girl, could go two places better here.
She has run well to a point in her two chase starts this season but they could just have been biding their time, and her mark, before having another crack at this big hurdles pot, as she travelled really well into the race, off this mark, when third last season, just being left for dead for by two very well handicapped horses after the last.
If the first-time cheekpieces help her, it could be game on, so I'll take my chances.
Just as I was about to publish on Friday afternoon, the Sportsbook enhanced the mares race to five places and the handicap chase to six, so happy days.