A rain-swept Cheltenham is back in the spot light once again with the December Gold Cup and the International Hurdle taking centre stage.
This year’s December Gold Cup looks set to be a belter with a number of classy chasers taking part including Paddy Power Gold Cup runner up Walkon.
The Alan King trained horse is 5/1 joint favourite to go one better over the same course and distance as the Paddy Power but the handicappers handed him a 6lb penalty for that gutsy performance.
His main rival in the betting is the up and coming Unioniste (5/1) after he followed up his gutsy Aintree win with a decent performance at Cheltenham last month before perishing to RSA favourite Dynaste.
However the promising Paul Nicholls chaser carries bottom weight of 10-0 and would have being better off still had jockey Harry Dernham been able to reach the handicappers 9-8.
David Pipe’s Notus De La Tour will make his seasonal reappearance and will hope he can reverse the form from last year when Walkon beat him at Exeter.
However he was giving away 7lbs to the field that day going off even-money-favourite and it is definitely not past him to take this race. He goes well fresh and has been beaten by some of the best including Sanctuaire and Flemenstar.
Notus De La Tour however will not be the most anticipated season returner of the day as Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby looks set to make his reappearance in the International Hurdle.
He will however have big competition from former stablemate Zarkandar, and the ever promising Grandouet.
Rock On Ruby (9/4), who landed former trainer Paul Nicholls with his first ever Champion Hurdle, has since moved stables and is now trained by Harry Fry.
Zarkander (5/4) looked very good last out giving away more than a stone to beat Prospect Wells at Wincanton.
That was despite a blunder at the last by his stablemate seemingly giving the race to the five-year-old.
Grandouet (5/2) for the majority of last season was seen as the real threat to Hurricane Fly. Unfortunately for the Nicky Henderson trained five-year-old, his last outing was when defeating the impressing Overturn in this race last year and should the same horse return, he will be the one to beat.
There is a full card of top racing at Cheltenham this weekend with Oscar Whisky and Our Father both odds-on favourites to take their respected races.
Our Father was absolutely scintillating when beating Sire Collanges by 20 lengths at the Open Meeting last month and is appealing even as short as 5/6 to take the Novices Chase tomorrow.
Bet of the day: Our Father (5/6) + Oscar Whiskey (4/9)
December Gold Cup: Walkon (5/1)
International Hurdle: Grandouet (5/2)