There are some fascinating races later on the Cheltenham Thursday card and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post provides his best bets in the second half of the day.
Fugitif @ 11/1
1pt each-way (six places)
Luccia @ 13/8
Dr Kananga @ 33/1
1pt each-way (six places)
While all the hype has been about So Scottish in the Magners Plate, this is a race where course specialists tend to have loads of joy.
With six places on offer, betting into the each-way market is a more attractive option than ploughing into an 'Irish banker' on what has to be little more than raw faith given the prices.
The equivalent race to this one which is held on Festival Trials Day often proves strong form and this year Il Ridoto and FUGITIF pulled well clear in that race.
The winner Il Ridoto got a more positive ride from Harry Cobden, who had to pull out all the stops to keep him in front. In short, Fugitif shaped better with this race in mind and could take a bit of stopping.
Fugitif was well fancied by the Richard Hobson yard last season, but he was unable to deliver then as the stable suffered a pretty horrendous time of it. Hobson later reported that his horses were 'sick all year'.
Fugitif started making up for lost time when dotting up at Chepstow on Welsh National day and then showed improved form once again when just held off by Il Ridoto. He can take another step forward and earn his backers a place return at the least.
The Irish challenge in the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle looks unusually weak and the path looks clear for the Nicky Henderson-trained LUCCIA.
She is unbeaten in four runs, including a Listed bumper in soft ground at this time last year and a good-ground Listed hurdle at Exeter last time.
She could hardly have done it more easily last time, in a race where she also brushed off some geldings, and she looks extremely hard to beat in this race unless one of her rivals takes a massive leap forward.
Sometimes they go too hard in the Kim Muir, but more often than not it works out like most Cheltenham handicap chases: the leaders tend not to come back.
In that case, DR KANANGA looks like one who can outrun his odds. He was progressive at around this time last year, winning at Sandown and then finishing second to Eva's Oskar at Exeter. He would be on 9lb better terms with that horse if they were to meet now, so that was an excellent effort.
This campaign has been a little stuttery for Dr Kananga, although his only chase run has been in the Becher at Aintree when he seemed ill at ease over the National fences.
As a result, he is fresh and well handicapped ahead of the spring and is just the type to run well in a Kim Muir. That is especially true if the ground stays on the softer side.