The great Paisley Park bids for lucky number seven in a row in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon as we continue to build towards the Festival in March, which seems just around the corner now.
He faces a tough task with the stout If The Cap Fits in direct opposition, and he is plenty short enough in the betting to suggest that the best approach may be to keep a watching brief.
More attractively priced, however, is Venetia Williams' CLOUDY GLEN (1.15, Cheltenham) in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase.
An opening mark of 132 for this progressive looking novice chaser could very well look on the lenient side this afternoon if, as expected, Cloudy Glen delivers on the glimpses of promise he has shown to date.
Following a good second at Carlisle, Cloudy Glen fell over Christmas but got firmly back on track with a cosy win last time in a match at Haydock.
Williams' horses do tend to improve over time and that nine-length win last time over a 130-rated rival bodes well for this contest today.
Soft conditions here will be in his favour, he jumps and travels well and should be thereabouts at an attractive 8/1 in the betting.
Another one who could be nicely handicapped is David Pipe's WARTHOG (1.50, Cheltenham), who has already enjoyed a successful season at the track.
In his two runs to date he was a fine third on his reappearance in the BetVictor Gold Cup before knuckling down up the hill to out-battle Spiritofthegames in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
The handicapper has given him an excellent chance of backing that up here after raising him just 4lbs and he remains attractively weighted off 136 with plenty more still to come.
Spiritofthegames does have a 1lb swing in the weights from last time, but the feeling is that Warthog is more progressive and can confirm the form.
Philip Kirby will be hoping he has a genuine Gold Cup contender on his hands in the form of TOP VILLE BEN (2.25, Cheltenham) and a win in today's Paddy Power Cotswolds Chase will book his place at the big dance in March.
He looked very promising when a convincing eight-lengths winner of the Rowland Meyrick Chase on St Stephen's Day, and this looks an excellent opportunity to back that up, despite Santini and Bristol De Mai in opposition.
His rating of 164 puts him bang there, even if he has a few pounds to find on official ratings to beat Bristol De Mai.
This game front-runner will relish soft ground so any further rain will help his cause and it would come as no surprise if he was to bounce out in front and stay there.
It was difficult not to be impressed by YUKON LIL (2.10, Fairyhouse) when she dotted up in her maiden hurdle at Naas and she could easily progress into a top-class mare.
She was highly tried in Bumpers and has a Listed success to her name, so is clearly talented and it may be telling that Paul Townend rides her instead of Willie Mullins' other two runners.
1.15 cloudy glen
2.25 top ville ben
2.10 yukon lil