Constitution Hill – Champion Hurdle – last year’s Supreme Novices’ winner looks set to be the shortest-priced runner at the Festival having looked nothing short of a machine in five unbeaten career runs under rules. With an average winning distance of 15.4 lengths and an aggregate winning distance of 77 lengths, nothing he has faced so far has got anywhere near this son of Blue Bresil, who has the potential to be one of the best of all time. Should he beat the likes of Honeysuckle, State Man and Vauban by the same sort of distances as he has been winning by, it will be impossible to deny his greatness. A potential phenomenon, it’s hard to see what beats Nicky Henderson’s star, although you will not get rich backing him.
Jonbon – Arkle Chase – a 570,000 guineas brother to the top-class Douvan, Jonbon has done little wrong since making his rules debut, tasting defeat only once in an eight race career when no match for the aforementioned Constitution Hill at the 2022 Festival. A winner of both of his starts over fences, the J P McManus-owned gelding has looked a natural over the bigger obstacles in two starts to date, and landed the Grade 1 Henry VIII by 8 lengths on his most recent start. On strict numbers, his only run at Cheltenham is a little bit below his peak form, but he probably paid the price for forcing a strong pace there and he should go close with a clear round.
Marie’s Rock – Mares’ Hurdle – highly progressive last season, last year’s Mares’ Hurdle winner followed up at the Punchestown Festival and looked better than ever when landing the Relkeel on her seasonal debut. Weak in the market, the daughter of Milan defied doubts about her fitness with a dominant display, powering clear of some talented opponents having travelled much the best. Should make a bold bit to retain her crown.
Hermes Allen – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Paul Nicholls star novice has swept all before him in three starts over this season, most recently hacking up in the Challow Hurdle from a strong-looking field. Proven on good ground and at this track, critically there appears to be little to fear from the Irish runners in this division at this stage, with both Gaelic Warrior and Impaire Et Passe unproven over the trip. Looks very solid.
Bravemansgame – Gold Cup – beaten only once over fences when clearly amiss at Aintree last year, the King George winner has looked a top class staying chaser this season. Clearly has the ability to take a hand in a Gold Cup, and ran well enough for a future-chaser in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2021. The biggest issue would appear to be stamina, with a gruelling 3m 2f unlikely to play to his strengths. Looks up against it.