Harry Fry: American will go well in these conditions
In his preview of day four of the Cheltenham Festival, the leading National Hunt trainer discusses the Gold Cup and the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.
Coming down the hill, Altior didn't look the likeliest of winners in the Betway Champion Chase.
My eye was drawn to the Irish challengers of Min and Ordinary World, but then Nico de Boinville, who clearly knows the horse so well, got him going and he won very well in the end.
It will be interesting to see if they try him over further.
On the evidence of yesterday you would think about stepping him up, but clearly he's the best two-mile chaser around and while that's the case you'd be daft to try anything else.
Apple’s Shakira has been particularly impressive so far this season and is most people's idea of the winner.
I'm pretty keen on Redicean , though. I'm not sure whether he handles conditions but he was very impressive in the Adonis at Kempton and is the biggest danger to the mare.
This race is incredibly competitive.
Chesterfield could be one to keep an eye on after winning a jumpers-bumper last week, but I'm unsure of whether he'll handle the soft ground.
Jenkins has had a good season and is better than his run suggested in the Betfair Hurdle. He did too much that day.
Overall, though, it's a very difficult race to find the winner of.
It takes a very tough and genuine horse to win the Albert Bartlett, so I think Noel Fehily has a great chance on Chef Des Obeaux .
He's won in the conditions and is unbeaten in his last three.
Santini , who joins him at the head of the betting, beat Black Op last time out which looks like very solid form.
I'd say it was between those two.
Having American in the Gold Cup makes for a very exciting occasion.
We were happy with the horse before we even thought about supplementing him.
Conditions remain extremely testing after further showers on Wednesday evening and there's the promise of more rain before Friday gets underway, too.
It's a tall order and he has a lot to find on ratings but we know he'll go in the conditions.
He's come forward well from his run in the Cotswold Chase and Noel Fehily knows him well.
If he gets into a rhythm, and jumps and travels like we know he can, then he could run into a place and we'd be over the moon with that.
He did his last bit of work at the weekend and that all went well so it's just been a case of ticking him over, and we're almost there now.
All he does is stay.
He may not be a particularly fast horse and, asides from his fragility, that's another reason why he wants slow ground. He's a relentless galloper.
Don't be surprised if he's not up there to begin with as Noel will just look to get him into a nice rhythm early on, and then hopefully his jumping will take him there towards the finish.
Wonderful Charm placed in this race last year and has an experienced amateur in Sam Waley-Cohen on board.
Paul Nicholls has a couple of good chances in the race, including last year's winner Pacha Du Polder , and will be keen to get a winner on the board this week.
National Hunt racing is all about the Cheltenham Festival, so getting just one winner makes your year.
Melrose Boy got a touch of colic on the way to Sandown on Saturday, which was frustrating as we thought he had a great chance.
We dealt with that very quickly and he hasn't missed a beat since.
That was going to be over 2m4f on soft ground, and this is not much different at 2m5f in similarly testing conditions.
Kieron Edgar won on him here earlier this season, which is another positive, and I can't understand why we're still 20/1.
We know this is a very competitive handicap but so was last Saturday's and he was second favourite for that so I think he's definitely over-priced.
Vaniteux strikes me as a typical Pipe plot horse.
He's dropped in the weights this season and it wouldn't surprise me if he was bang there at the finish.