'Seuil' to shine and upstage stablemate
Second string looks the value for O'Neill in quality feature
Jonjo O'Neill can take a compelling feature race at Cheltenham today - but not with the horse the majority of punters will put their faith in.
The Irishman has both More Of That, the participation of which owes to considerable rainfall earlier in the week, and Taquin De Seuil, which will enjoy the terrain too. Unlike his stable ally, he had a prep for this £160,000 contest.
The nine-year-old Taquin De Seuil won the JLT at the main Festival in 2014. He has scored just once since but the handicapper has shown remorse in dropping him to a rating of 148.
As prep runs go, his Chepstow reappearance was not far off ideal. He kept on nicely when his chance was gone and was just three lengths behind the winner at the wire.
Aidan Coleman keeps the ride and, though he has a great deal of weight, he has the requisite class. That said, More Of That is clearly a massive danger.
The only horse to beat Annie Power when she completed (2014 World Hurdle), his tendency to burst is a worry; he has also had problems with his wind. Whether or not he jumps well enough for this test is another question-mark.
More Of That is almost certainly the best-treated horse in the race in theory: he is 13lb well-in on his hurdles form. However, as his trainer said midweek, he is far from straightforward physically.
If More Of That is relatively inexperienced, what of Frodon? A four-year-old has never won this race, established in 1960, but Paul Nicholls is no fool and must feel that this most natural of jumpers has the innate quality necessary to belittle the trends.
The star of the Cheltenham show is Thistlecrack, which has had a softly-softly programme with the ultimate aim of emulating Coneygree as a novice winning the Gold Cup. He did what was required on chase debut but has more to think about in the Mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase.
A clear round ought to suffice but in Marinero, Colin Tizzard's exciting prospect faces an electric jumper that should acquit himself with credit. This should help the Gold Cup favourite learn how to leap at a greater speed.
Meme's Horse is put forward for Harry Fry in the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle. He has his first start out of novice class but there should be more to come.
Nigel Twiston-Davies was among the winners yesterday and Cogry is dangerous off a feather burden in the BetVictor Handicap Chase. His Midlands National third last term illustrates that the ability is there, whatever about his fall on reappearance being less than ideal.
Wetherby stages a couple of televised contests on Channel 4, including the totescoop6 Racing's Millionaire Maker Handicap Chase. Aerlite Supreme is a well-treated horse on anything like the pick of his form, while the totepoolliveinfo.com Handicap Hurdle can go to the consistent Sakhee's City.
Modus can strike in the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle on an exciting weekend for JP McManus. Though yet to really repay McManus for what he paid for him last season, he can go some way tomorrow.
Modus has fine form in the Cheltenham Bumper and, typical of a son of Motivator, he likes nice ground. He may reach peak hurdles ratings over farther, so a searching gallop would help his chance.
Another high-class performer in National Hunt flat races - last year's Cheltenham hero Ballyandy - makes plenty of appeal in the Sky bet Supreme Trial Novices Hurdle. Though he was turned over by Moon Racer on his return at Perth, he travelled like a dream and will be really hard to beat here, albeit in a useful heat.
Henry de Bromhead is double-handed in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase. However, the McManus-owned Le Prezien, which made a lovely start over fences at Uttoxeter, probably has a class edge on these.
De Bromhead targets the Shloer Chase with Special Tiara, which takes on the brilliant Simonsig. Special Tiara is a really admirable sort and is marginally preferred in a very hot renewal.
Top Gamble must be respected, while Module is tempting at a huge price on this belated return.
Meanwhile, both Paul Hanagan and Jonathan Burke have revised futures after news of their retainers ceasing emerged yesterday. Hamdan Al Maktoum will no longer have Hanagan as first jockey - more surprising than the news that Alan Potts will not be retaining Burke.
Potts has moved several of his horses to Britain. Burke, a young man with many good days ahead of him, will now concentrate on freelance imperatives. Potts' long-time ally De Bromhead has moved on and so can Burke.