Another busy weekend of racing awaits & day one of the International Meeting takes centre-stage on Friday from the Home of Jump Racing - Cheltenham. Our man Danny Archer has examined the day's action and gives his thoughts below
12:45: Cheltenham - Lil Rockerfeller to play the right tune
Despite the four runners, a fascinating tactical battle in prospect in this extended three mile and one furlong novice chase event. Neil King's Lil Rockerfeller is officially the highest rated horse in the contest and has won his three starts over fences, with varying degrees of victory. A winner over subsequent scorer Wenyerreadyfreddie at Uttoxeter in October, the seven-year-old son of Hard Spun lacked fluency at Cheltenham in October, but was much slicker last time our at Exeter. These small field races do allow him to get I to a rhythm and you would think the chief threat will come from Tom George's The Worlds End. He travelled like a dream at the November Meeting before finding very little in the closing stages under Adrian Heskin, eventually finishing third to the Paul Nicholls-trained Ibis Du Rheu who also reopposes here. Based on what they've achieved over the larger obstacles thus far, I'm keen to stick with Lil Rockerfeller.
1:20: Cheltenham - Al Dancer to show all the right moves
The vibes are very positive for Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge. An easy winner of two novice hurdles, connections think he's a damn sight better than that and feel he could develop into a real G1 contender. With that in mind, he's definitely worth a play.
1:55: Cheltenham - The Bay Birch looks overpriced
This race has been the plan for a while & whilst The Bay Birch has to carry top-weight, she's a consistent mare who a Novices' Hurdle at Uttoxeter in May. Drying ground conditions will be in her favour and she was a respectable third at Newbury last time out behind Kapcorse, shaping nicely before tiring late on. That was her first start back over fences since April and I think there is more to come off this mark.
2:30: Cheltenham - Coo Star Sivola to regain winning thread
Nick Williams & daughter Lizzie Kelly team up with Cheltenham Festival winner Coo Star Sivola at Prestbury Park and he looks slightly overpriced for the three mile and two curling event. He landed the Ultima at Cheltenham in March and ran very respectably behind subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy Elegant Escape in the Listed Intermediate Trophy at Sandown earlier this year. He hasn't been seen since but still rates an interesting horse going forward.
3:05: Cheltenham: Josies should restore Order, but Comedy could have last laugh for France
Interesting renewal of the Cross Country but desperately missing Tiger Roll who would have brought added spice to this event. Josies Orders represents the King of the Banks Enda Bolger & the 10-year-old son of Milan did the business nicely over course & distance, finding plenty for pressure to defeat Fact Of The Matter, who reopposes today. He is sure to go well again for Bolger & the chief threat could come from Amazing Comedy who won the Cross Country at Compeigne easily last time out. He has inexperience of these fences having finished 5th in the Cross Country contest at The Festival and should not be discounted for David Cottin & his team.
12:45: Cheltenham: Lil Rockerfeller
1:20: Cheltenham: Al Dancer
1:55 Cheltenham: The Bay Birch E/W
2:30: Cheltenham: Coo Star Sivola E/W
3:05: Cheltenham: Josies Orders & Amazing Comedy E/W