While the heart cries Cue Card in Thursday's Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, the head nods in the more realistic direction of last year's winner
UN DE SCEAUX, for whom this race is made to measure.
The Willie Mullins-trained money-spinner boasts an unbelievable career record of 20 wins from 26 starts and never really looked in serious danger twelve months ago when ridden out by Ruby Walsh to beat Sub Lieutenant on good ground.
On a softer surface, Un De Sceaux is a machine and it was interesting to see how well this former tearaway settled when winning at Ascot in January. Beaten by Fox Norton over two miles at Punchestown in the spring, this extra distance should again bring out the best in him.
For Cue Card, the dream of another Festival win is still alive after his rattling effort against Waiting Patiently, also at Ascot, last month.
Written off previously after finishing very tired behind Bristol De Mai at Haydock, he is clearly still a force to be reckoned with and, while the Gold Cup has not been kind to him at the last two Festivals, this incredibly youthful 12-year-old has won twice at the meeting in the past including in this race in 2013.
There won't be a dry eye in the house if Cue Card can secure another win, but he's up against a formidable opponent here.
Later, the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle looks a particularly deep renewal but I will take a chance with
THE NEW ONE thriving on his first attempt at three miles.
One of the best hurdlers around for a very long time, the now ten-year-old seems as good as ever this season and is already proven at two-and-a-half miles having won and run well in several Aintree Hurdles.
A very respectable fourth under a big weight in the Greatwood Hurdle here earlier in the season, The New One then split My Tent Or Yours and Tuesday's Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon in the International, was then no match for Buveur D'Air over Kempton's sharp two miles and, most recently, showed bottomless courage to give weight and a beating to Ch'Tibello in heavy ground at Haydock.
Two miles is almost certainly too short for him these days, unless conditions are really testing, yet he remains incredibly consistent and well worth a shot at this bare three-mile trip.
On their running together at Aintree last spring, there is little to choose between Yanworth and Supasundae, and the big improver in the line-up is Long Walk Hurdle winner Sam Spinner who is a very gutsy front runner.
His Ascot win could not be faulted for effort though runner-up L'Ami Serge, not for the first time, flattered to deceive and third-placed Unowhatimeanharry appeared to run below his best.
Otherwise, there are some very difficult looking races on the card, but it may be worth taking a chance on
WHO DARES WINS handling the ground and staying three miles in the Pertemps Network Final.
Alan King's dual-purpose campaigner is only 3lb higher in the ratings following his third to Supasundae in the shorter Coral Cup here last year since when he has shown decent form on the Flat finishing fourth (a little unlucky) in the Chester Cup and third in the Ascot Stakes before winning the Cesarewitch Trial.
As he stays beyond two miles on the level, there must be a good chance that he will last home here.
Finally, I will give another chance to
FINAL NUDGE in the closing Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders Handicap Chase as a disappointing effort at Sandown last time may have come too soon after his previous third in the Welsh Grand National.
It looked as though David Dennis's tough chaser ran out of stamina at Chepstow as nothing was going better turning for home and this trip could be ideal under talented rider Barry O'Neill.
Final Nudge has run once at Cheltenham before going under by just a length and a half to future Festival winner Unowhatimeanharry over hurdles in December, 2015.
Simon Holt's recommended bets:
Posted at 1045 GMT on 14/03/18.
Source : https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/simon-holt:-sceaux-good-in-ryanair/1445511076