Sam Red should lift gloom at Kempton
Valseur Lido ruled out of Cheltenham by injury setback
Valseur Lido will not run at Cheltenham, Henry de Bromhead revealing yesterday that the Gigginstown runner had picked up an injury.
Gigginstown's racing manager Eddie O'Leary said: "He's at the equine hospital now. As injuries go we think it's not that bad. However, he'll definitely miss the rest of the season, I'd have thought."
The horse's chance of winning the Timico Gold Cup seemed quite remote after he patently failed to get home in the Lexus, but he would have had other options.
He might have tackled Thistlecrack at Kempton instead at Christmas and it is that track which dominated racing headlines this week. That it will likely be sold for housing has met with much anger in racing, though some can see the sense in it, including Ruby Walsh.
Expect a bump in crowd for today's meeting, where the feature is the 32Red Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.
Sam Red is the darkest of dark ones and, despite all the negatives, he is really interesting.
Former trainer Alan Fleming admitted his love for the French import after a 26-length maiden hurdle win in 2015, since which he was a fine Grade Three third.
Though things went a bit awry after that, he has lots of potential, and a strongly-run handicap over today's distance should suit. The step up in trip could be the making of Modus, given his bumper form.
He is around 10/1 and should give it a go, though he is frustrating.
The high-class Vaniteux seems to have been well-placed in the 32Red Casino Chase. Running a blinder when unseating behind Douvan in last year's Arkle, he has been third on all three runs since, always 5/2 or shorter. He steps up in distance and should win this.
Notnowcato, a stallion based in Ireland, has few runners here but he is strongly represented today. His son, Doesyourdogbite, could be favourite in the feature, while Sandy Breach is also an offspring of the stallion in the three-mile handicap chase. However, preference in this is for the tough Kruzhlinin, by Don Cossack's stallion, Sholokhov. He will stay all day and won readily over hurdles at Haydock, albeit off a 10lb lower figure.
The Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick is one of the best races run all weekend in Ireland and Britain. Mystical Knight, a Navan winner last year in a decent novice heat, may get a nice tow into this race, since there are a couple of potential front-runners.
It will suit both American and Champers On Ice to be going left-handed and both are in with strong claims, Champers On Ice especially.
With the ground soft, the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle will be a gruelling affair over three-and-a-quarter miles. The 15 runners make this a win-bet race. In truth, it looks a no-bet race, with plenty in with a shout.
The game Cogry may follow up his narrow Cheltenham win, yet the nod goes to Bon Enfant at a big price. Blinkers may do the trick as he attempts to bounce back to form and time is his ally.
Irish eyes will be smiling if Peregrine Run continues his astonishing resurgence in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.
He is on the cusp of a five-timer - decent going for a horse which was tailed off in a handicap at Tipperary last May off 109. He is opposable today though, ready preference for the likeable Geordie Des Champs.
Though a major gamble on the six-year-old went awry at Newbury last time, he did very little wrong and could be more suited by the ground than the Irish raider.
There are four places for punters in the Betfred Classic Handicap Chase, coming some days after the sponsor's founder pleaded against any changes to fixed-odds betting terminals, which thankfully are not allowed in the Republic of Ireland.
Houblon Des Obeaux, an admirable third in the Welsh National, has actually dropped in the weights and is a dour stayer. Charlie Deutsch seems to get on well with the ten-year-old.