Aspire can Tower over rivals while Delta can go to work in gig one
Come 5.40 this evening the biggest four days in racing will have come and gone, which is probably a surprise to many as Coronavirus has taken hold.
Racing at Dundalk will be behind closed doors this evening but a bumper crowd will be in attendance for the big day today in the Cotswold.
Kicking things off, Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead can land the Triumph Hurdle with ASPIRE TOWER (1.30).
This lad immediately caught the eye as a contender for this race when smartly winning on his jumping debut at Punchestown in November and he followed up over Christmas by hacking up when hurdles were omitted at Leopardstown in the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile.
Formerly a smart middle distance performer on the Flat, today's test of stamina will hold no fears and the son of Born To Sea looks very uncomplicated. He does have a final flight fall last time to get over but de Bromhead will have ironed out any jumping flaws.
Expect Blackmore to have him handy as some of the more free-running types make the running and he can join in up the straight to pounce and go away.
The Gold Cup is the big one, and with Gordon Elliott's string in such sparkling form, DELTA WORK (3.30) is chosen to bring the Blue Riband back to Meath.
This lad was third in the RSA Chase here last year, behind today's likely favourite Santini, but he has improved past that rival on his last two starts, winning the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
On both of those occasions he had Kemboy in behind and he looks like there's still a bit more to come.
Al Boum Photo and Santini will undoubtedly be tough nuts to crack but this lad jumps and travels and Davy Russell is riding out of his skin, as he showed yesterday, and can cap off a magical week.
In the County Hurdle, a couple against the field in this ultra-competitive handicap are SIR VALENTINE (2.10) and STOLEN SILVER (2.10).
Sir valentine was off the track for two and a half years but has ran really well in big handicaps like this the last twice, finishing fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last time. A repeat of that and a bit more would see him go close.
Stolen Silver is a very classy novice and was caught out at the start in the Betfair but rattled home and the handicapper has eased him a couple of pounds in the handicap, which brings him right into things.
THYME HILL (2.50) was third in the Champion Bumper last year, with just Abacadabras and Envoi Allen in front of him, and he has looked top class this season over hurdles.
He has landed a Grade Two and Grade One on his last two starts and can make it four in a row over hurdles in the Albert Bartlett.
JAN MAAT (4.50) hasn't been seen since landing a Grade Three novice in October and he looks like he could be very well treated in the Grand Annual as the de Bromhead second string. Blackmore is in the saddle, an obvious plus, and he has some classy form behind Wicklow Brave before that Punchestown win and is excellent each-way value.
Team Mullins rarely have Foxhunters' runner but BILLAWAY (4.10) catches the eye after a smooth Naas win while in the lucky last FRONT VIEW (5.30) can send the Irish punters home, hopefully Coronavirus free, very happy.
1.30 aspire tower
2.10 sir valentine (EW) & STOLEN SILVER (EW)
2.50 THYME HILL
3.30 Delta work
4.50 jan maat
5.30 front view
TIPPED: Aspire Tower can win in Cheltenham today