This is probably one of the toughest handicaps out of the four day festival to work out who's going to line up.
Last year there was 190 entries and only 21 ran so you get what I'm talking about.
Willie Mullins has trained three of the last five winners and the Irish had the first three home last year.
The way this horse has seen out his last two races tells me he'll definitely get up the hill over this trip at Cheltenham. Gordon Elliot is very keen to run Squouateur here but JP McManus will have the final say. A fast improving hurdler who is likely to be one of the market leaders if taking his chance here. I previously mentioned Squouateur when speaking about Townshend's chances in the Grade 3 County Hurdle and the fact that Squouateur beat Townshend so easily in that race but is still probably going to run here in a Class 2 race surely gives Gordon Elliot's horse a brilliant chance. If Townshend wins that Country Hurdle or even puts in a big performance to grab a place then Squouateur could be great value.
Paul Nicholls' five year old was a winner at the Cheltenham Festival last year when he won the Fred Winter over 2m's on good ground. He saw that trip out really well and was asserting towards to the finish which suggests a step up in trip is just what he needs. He's not been at his best so far this season but I think we can forgive him his seasonal reappearance he was beaten first time out last year before winning the Fred Winter. I'm trying to find an excuses for his poor showing at Ascot and maybe we can say that he didn't like the soft ground. If thats the case then he would've hated the heavy ground at Taunton where he finished runner up last time out so maybe we can forgive him that run too. Those are all excuses that I'm trying to find because I was impressed with this horse when he won at last years Festival. We need to remember that this is a handicap so maybe Mr Nicholls is trying to Qualando into a nice mark. Anyway, I fancy this horse to show that he's much better than his three outings so far this season.
Gordon Elliot trained the 2nd placed horse home last year and hopes to go one better with a few entries in this. His horse Westend Star has a decent chance of grabbing a place here in my opinion. He's ran four times so far this season winning twice. The form of his 2nd placed finish last time out might be decent considering the winner is entered in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett. Westend Star did beat that same horse a couple of runs back at Thurles but had no excuses when Arkwrisht turned the form around on heavy ground at Clonmel. Gordon Elliot has said that most of his horses will improve for better ground and this could be the case with Westend Star.