Terrefort can get punters off to the perfect start by taking the JLT Novices’ Chase for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Daryl Jacob, suggests racing correspondent Tommy Lyons.
The five-year-old has had just two runs since arriving at Seven Barrows, from France, but has impressed with his ability and attitude on both occasions.
On the first of those two runs, he settled nicely on the front end, gave a fine display of jumping, and won with a considerable amount in hand.
He faced a much tougher task in the Grade One Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown next time out, but again jumped well and on this occasion sprinted to the line to fend off the sustained effort of the highly regarded Cyrname.
Although the margin of victory was just a neck, he was holding the challenger all the way, and that level of form stands up to anything which his rivals can boast. He looks a terrific prospect for Nicky Henderson.
Willie Mullins has the chief rival here, in Invitation Only. After a hiccup on his first start, he has adapted well to chasing and ran a fine race in defeat behind Monalee last time out.
3.30pm: The feature on the day is the Stayers’ Hurdle and victory can go to the progressive Sam Spinner. Jedd O’Keeffe’s horse likes to do it the hard way, from the front, and that’s going to be even more difficult on the New Course at Cheltenham.
However, he looks as though he could get a relatively easy lead and this progressive six-year-old has shown time and again that he has the stomach for a battle. He has also shown an ability to cope with all types of ground conditions and can be fancied to fend off all challengers.
The ground may make this more of a test than ideal for Irish Champion Hurdler Supasundae.
The latter is a class act, but he was picked up late by Apple’s Jade over the trip at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, and will need to find a little more to score today.
For a value alternative, the quirky L’Ami Serge makes each-way appeal. He finished runner-up to Sam Spinner in the Long Walk Hurdle and was desperately unlucky when a close third to Wakanda last time.
This race should be run to suit, and he can be delivered late to reach the frame.
2.50pm: Un De Sceaux is exceptionally good on testing ground and can complete back-to-back victories in the Ryanair Chase.
Unbeaten in two runs this season, he likes to get on with things and can take his rivals out of their comfort zone from an early stage.
Last year, Ruby Walsh admitted he was a passenger for much of the race, but there was never a moment in that race that Un De Sceaux looked anything but the winner.
This isn’t a considerably more difficult renewal, and he can land the spoils at the expense of Cloudy Dream.
The last-named finished runner-up to Altior in last season’s Arkle Chase, won at Ayr next time, and finished runner-up in all four starts this season.
His form figures may give the impression of a frustrating horse to follow, but he has been running in the very best of company.
It’s no different today and on official figures he has a bit to find, but there’s a good chance this race will be run to suit, and he can pick up some, if not all, of the pieces.
4.50pm: Laurina is going to take a world of beating in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle.
An imposing mare who can only improve, she was an easy winner of a modest maiden at Tramore on her debut for Willie Mullins but stepped up markedly on that performance when following up in a Grade Three at Fairyhouse next time.
She impressed with the way she pulled clear in the latter race and should excel on the hill and the testing ground this afternoon. Mullins’ record in the mares’ races at this meeting is nothing short of phenomenal and she can enhance it.