Day one of the newly rebranded Cheltenham Christmas Meeting takes place on Friday and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post has three fancies on the card.
Hermes Allen had been floated as a runner in this race but Paul Nicholls chose not to declare him. I reckon one of the reasons for that would be that the yard has a strong alternative for the race in GINNY'S DESTINY.
Hermes Allen was a top-class novice hurdler. Meanwhile Ginny's Destiny is very much the type that Nicholls only brings to the boil once they run over fences.
This horse has already got plenty of experience over Cheltenham's fences. He jumped for fun before getting tired on his debut, then built on that when winning a handicap by ten-lengths at the November meeting.
Crebilly, who was coming to challenge in that race when falling two out, is a viable danger. But one of the main reasons for backing Ginny's Destiny is that his form is much closer to that of Grey Dawning than the betting suggests. The latter's form, which includes meetings with Stay Away Fay and Gaillard Du Mesnil already this season, is more about style than substance to this point.
Course form is also important to this selection. WALK IN CLOVER belatedly caught light in the spring and she took her form to the next level when winning here in April despite being a stone out of the weights.
Her improvement has continued. She won at Southwell and got back on the up when three-lengths third to Triple Trade over 2m at the November meeting. That was a warmer race than this one, which is restricted to mares, and Walk In Clover will be more at home over this 2m4½f distance than at the bare 2m.
In between, Walk In Clover had looked set to give some sort of race to My Mate Mozzie in October at this track. She unseated at the last and her jumping is the slight issue with her. But her form, and the clear evidence that she can get around these big fences without mishap, is much more persuasive.
Le Ligerien is a rare veteran who is in the form of his life. He came back to his best on joining Joe Tizzard in the spring and has continued that this autumn with a win at Kempton.
There are a couple of wrinkles against this admirable sort. First is the fact he has never mixed in the sort of handicaps some of his rivals here have won, let alone contested. Second is that his resurgence has been almost exclusively at flat tracks and Cheltenham provides a very different proposition.
STORM CONTROL and Cepage are both Premier handicap winners (Grade 3 as they were then) at Cheltenham. The former is the one who you'd have more faith in retaining the lion's share of his ability. He showed loads of zest in last year's feature handicap in November, then did the same over 3m at Doncaster over Christmas.
His mark has dropped to 129, so Storm Control is chucked in. If he had always been a 2m4f horse, rather than a newly-minted one (his big win here was over 3m2f), I reckon he'd be pushing Le Ligerien for favouritism. He might be doing that by the off.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.