McManus Gold Cup hopes led by Squadron
JP McMANUS last won Cheltenham's December Gold Cup in 2011 with Quantitativeeasing, and the leading owner has a trio of chances for this afternoon's race, led by Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up Colour Squadron.
AP McCoy has chosen to get back aboard the Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old, with Cantlow and Tap Night his other options for McManus.
Now as short as 9-2 favourite for the 2m5f Grade 3 - run this year as the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup (2.25) - Colour Squadron is still a maiden over fences from five starts, but only went down by three parts of a length to Johns Spirit in the Paddy Power.
Hobbs said: "Colour Squadron was nearly brought down in the Paddy Power, so you might think he was unlucky. He's in good form and might appreciate softer ground."
Cheltenham's card is packed with classy action, and there is also jumps action from Doncaster, Fairyhouse and Lingfield. Southwell and Wolverhampton stage all-weather fixtures.
Today's key pointers
1. Paul Nicholls' record in the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham (12.10) reads 226121 so Vicenzo Mio looks certain to go close.
2. The favourite has a good record in Cheltenham's Grade 2 Bristol Novices' Hurdle (1.50) in the last eight years, finishing 11231111.
3. Nicky Henderson is 9/18 in novice chases at Doncaster in the last ten seasons (+6.43 to £1 stakes). Woodbank runs in the 1.00.
4. Six of the last nine winners of the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup at Cheltenham (2.25), started at 8-1 or shorter, which indicates that this a decent race for horses towards the head of the market.
Pointers appear from Raceform Interactive
Doncaster: hurdles, good, good to firm in places, chase, good
Fairyhouse: good to yielding
Lingfield: soft, heavy in places, good to soft between final three fences, all-weather, standard