With Richard Hughes retaining his flat racing jockey title the previous weekend, the racing spotlight now focuses on the national hunt calendar with the Cheltenham open meeting providing the most competitive action of the new campaign to date.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase is the highlight of the three day fixture.
In a far from vintage renewal of the 2m 5f handicap, David Pipe saddles ante-post favourite Dynaste (pictured) who was second in the Jewsons Novices Chase at the Cheltenham before claiming the John Smiths Mildmay Novices race at Aintree. There is just the suspicion that he prefers a 3 miles trip rather than the shorter distance at the weekend but he can be backed at 6/1 with William Hill.
Paddy Power also quote John’s Spirit at 6/1. Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, the six year old gelding has raced three times at Cheltenham this year and finally won last month when well treated at the weights. Set to carry only 10st 2lb in this race, he is not without a chance.
Champion Court is becoming something a fixture at Cheltenham having raced there on nine occasions, three of which were victories. He has raced in good graded company in the past three years and won over course and distance during April. He is quoted at 9/1 by BetVictor.
Rajdhani Express may represent the Long Run colours yet despite winning his final two races of last season, he remains a model of inconsistency but is available at 11/1 with 888Sport.
Perhaps one of the more interesting contenders is Irish trained HIDDEN CYCLONE who promised much as a novice chaser especially when narrowly beaten by Sir Des Champs. He rather lost his way last season after some indifferent displays but returned to form at Listowel in September with a win over his favoured 2m 4f trip. He represents decent value at 14/1 with Sporting Bet.
Another horse worth watching is the Venetia Williams trained Katenko who has not raced since winning impressively in heavy going over course and distance in January. A colic operation then ended his season but he is now reported in good health with Boylesports offering him at 14/1.
On the supporting card, PINE CREEK looks a decent bet in the Greatwood Hurdle. Having been beaten in only one race this year, when experiencing desperate ground at Sandown, he prevailed on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot and is quoted at 7/1 by 888Sport for this race.
He will be opposed by the Paul Nicholls trained Sametegal who won at this course last month when saddling top weight. Having never finished out of the first three placings, he is available at a rather generous 10/1 with Coral.
Ante-post favourite Cash And Go has not won for two years while Kashmir Peak has failed to score in six races over flat and hurdles this year but will be fit from a summer campaign.
Meanwhile in Ireland, Hurricane Fly returns to the racecourse after an unbeaten campaign last season. His main opposition in the Morgiana Hurdle is Jezki, but the Champion Hurdler is expected to make a winning reappearance at short odds.