15:05 Cheltenham, Wednesday
Live on ITV
1. Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins/ Paul Townend)
Top-class chaser who was a red-hot favourite for last year’s renewal when a foot abscess ruled him out of the race at the eleventh hour. Returned this season with dominant wins in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork and Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown, both in December. Completed his four-timer when winning the Dublin Chase for the second year in succession back at Leopardstown last time, jumping superbly and quickening smartly on the run-in to beat Fakir d’Oudairies by eight lengths in impressive fashion. Timeform’s highest-rated jumps horse in training and remains open to more improvement, identifying him as very much the one to beat.
2. Cilaos Emery (Willie Mullins/ Bryan Cooper)
Top-class chaser who won his first two starts over fences last season, in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas and Hilly Way Chase at Cork, before reverting to hurdling after falling at the first in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown. Resumed his chasing career this season and proved at least as good as ever after four months off when winning the Newlands Chase at Naas last time, cruising clear from two out to land the spoils by 11 lengths from Daly Tiger. Unbeaten in five completed starts at around 2m over fences and is well worth another try in Grade 1 company.
3. First Flow (Kim Bailey/ David Bass)
Rapidly progressive chaser who won his final three starts as a novice last season and has quickly picked up where he left off this term. Produced a top-class performance to extend his winning sequence to six in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time, jumping well under an attacking ride and keeping going well to beat Politologue by seven lengths. Clearly thriving at present but still needs to prove his effectiveness at Cheltenham.
4. Greaneteen (Paul Nicholls/ Bryony Frost)
Very smart chaser who won the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November and produced an even better effort when seven lengths second to Politologue in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown the following month. Not seen to best effect when beaten 12 lengths into third behind Sceau Royal in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last time, conceding weight all round and shaping as if needing a stronger gallop (refused to settle). Still needs to improve markedly to play a leading role here, though.
5. Notebook (Henry de Bromhead/ Rachael Blackmore)
Top-class chaser who won his first four starts as a novice before flopping in the Arkle last season. Returned better than ever this term, winning the Poplar Square Chase at Naas before finishing placed behind Chacun Pour Soi in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase (beaten six and a half lengths into second) and Dublin Chase (beaten 15 lengths into third), both at Leopardstown. Possibly did too much too soon on the last occasion and is better judged on his previous efforts. Highly unlikely to reverse the form with Chacun Pour Soi but has the class to play a hand in the battle for the minor money.
6. Nube Negra (Dan Skelton/ Harry Skelton)
Lightly-raced chaser who reached a useful level as a novice last season, winning twice and finishing placed in graded company on two further occasions. Proved a totally different proposition after 11 months off when winning the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton (by three and a half lengths from Altior) last time, travelling strongly and quickening to lead soon after two out. That was a high-class performance and he may yet have more to offer given that it’s still early days in his chasing career, but it remains to be seen how he’ll cope with this stiffer test.
7. Politologue (Paul Nicholls/ Harry Cobden)
Top-class chaser who won this race at the third attempt 12 months ago, beating Dynamite Dollars by nine and a half lengths. Proved at least as good as ever after nine months off when also winning the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown (by seven lengths from Greaneteen) in December and shaped as if still in good form when seven lengths second to First Flow in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time. Bold jumper who is unlikely to give up his crown without a fight, for all that he faces stronger opposition than 12 months ago.
8. Rouge Vif (Harry Whittington/ Gavin Sheehan)
Second-season chaser who reached a very smart level as a novice last term, notably winning the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick (by seven lengths from Nube Negra). Took another step forward after seven months off when winning a handicap over this course and distance in October, easily defying a BHA mark of 156. His limitations have been rather exposed in two subsequent starts in graded company, however, finishing only third (beaten nine lengths) in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and fourth (beaten 25 lengths) in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
9. Sceau Royal (Alan King/ Daryl Jacob)
Versatile sort who has already won three times this season, mixing hurdling and chasing to good effect. Fell in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in December but quickly bounced back with a high-class performance to resume winning ways in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury (by two lengths from Champ) last time, leading before the last and keeping on well. Finished third in this race in 2019 and looks sure to give another good account given his reliable record. Likely to prove vulnerable for win purposes once again, however.
10. Put The Kettle On (Henry de Bromhead/ Aidan Coleman)
Very smart chaser who is unbeaten in three starts over this course and distance, including the Arkle (by one and a half lengths from Fakir d’Oudairies) on her final outing as a novice last season and the Shloer Chase (by one and a quarter lengths from Duc des Genievres) on her reappearance this term. Met with defeat for just the second time over fences but still ran well when beaten eight and a quarter lengths into third behind Chacun Pour Soi in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown last time. Others boast stronger form claim but she clearly relishes these conditions.