CLONDAW WARRIOR has been pretty popular in the ante-post markets for the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle and it is easy to see why as the Irish raider holds every chance at Cheltenham.
Trained by a master in Willie Mullins (pictured), Clondaw Warrior sneaks into the race at the foot of the weights after only limited success in seven hurdles outings to date.
However, he only joined the Mullins powerhouse in August after previously racing for Shark Hanlon.
Hanlon is more than capable of training a horse, of course, but the Irish champion is taken to eke out a tiny bit more from him.
The seven-year-old showed a nice turn of foot when winning on his debut for Mullins at Galway in September and while subsequently disappointing as favourite in the Irish Cesarewitch, he showed that was just a blip as he bounced right back to his best at Leopardstown last month.
Clondaw Warrior was far too keen in the Cesarewitch but a hood seemed to help him settle in the Irish November Handicap as he powered home by a neck from Spacious Sky. Clondaw Warrior's Flat form is there for all to see but he will need to step up over obstacles, something he looks capable of doing while in such good heart.
COURT MINSTREL struck gold at this track last month and he looks a sound bet as he takes the next step up the ladder in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase.
The seven-year-old was a classy performer over hurdles for Evan Williams, although he just fell a little short of the truly top-grade runners such as The New One.
With a rating of 154 and limited opportunities in the hurdles sphere, it made sense to switch to fences this term.
The decision has already paid off as Court Minstrel overcame a merely average round of jumping to win on his debut at Newton Abbot.
That effort set him up nicely for a Prestbury Park run last month when he raced keenly before really putting some decent rivals to the sword with a ready near-three-length victory.
This Grade Two heat is a tougher task again but Court Minstrel is clearly learning with every run and certainly possesses the raw ability to make his mark in just this kind of event.
COMMISSIONED failed to win over obstacles last term but is certainly making his mark now and can secure a hat-trick in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.
John Ferguson's charge finished a fair fourth in the Grade One juvenile heat at Aintree so it was no surprise to see him get off the mark at this track last month before swiftly following up at Kempton.
Judged on his Flat pedigree, Commissioned would not be suited by deep winter ground so it makes sense for Ferguson to get plenty of experience in before the weather turns.
The Shloer Chase has lost its gloss with injury ruling out Sire De Grugy but that leaves the way clear for MODULE to triumph for Tom George.