DAQMAN WINNERS BOOM GOES ON AT 9-2: After 7-1 and 9-2 on Thursday, Daqman won again yesterday with Shakalakaboomboom (WON 9-2) on the first day of the Cheltenham December meeting. That gave him 44 points profit from four winning days.

ANOTHER LONG-ODDS PLACE AS 14-1 SHOT LOSES A HEAD: First In The Queue (2nd 14-1, beaten a head) yesterday follows a series of big-odds places in the last few days: 2nd 20-1, 3rd 20-1, 3rd 11-1, 2nd 17-2, 3rd 8-1.

12.10 Cheltenham (Triumph Hurdle Trial) Katchit landed this and then won the 2007 Triumph Hurdle. Last year’s hero, Sam Winner, was only fourth at Cheltenham and has struggled over fences since.

Hinterland tries to follow up here like Sam Winner did, both having won the November Triumph Hurdle Trial on their way to this. Bigger things are expected of him.

12.45 Cheltenham Joe Lively, What A Friend and Time For Rupert all won this in the last four seasons, two of them previous course winners.

Join Together won the November novice chase on the course that Time For Rupert did and will be fancied to complete the same double.

Mossley won the 1.55 novice hurdle on this card last season, and was runner-up in the Albert Bartlett proper at the Festival the following March. His debut chase win was inconclusive.

Champion Court ran second to Grands Crus here a month ago but third, fourth and fifth have all been well beaten since, and it may have been a case of ‘Grands Crus first, the rest nowhere.’

Gordon Elliott is three from six in novice chases on this course and, with only five runners left, the progressive Traffic Article is the value at 9.4, as I write.

1.20 Cheltenham It’s Nicky Henderson 3, Paul Nicholls 2 for winners in this race in the last eight years but what makes it hard today is that it’s Henderson 2, Nicholls 2 on number of runners.

However, one of the Henderson horses, Tanks For That, appears to be a standout among the four. He won over CD a month ago though, strictly at the revised weights, is ‘the same horse’ as Havingotascoobydo, who earlier skated up at Wetherby.

Rileyev was a long way behind this pair in the Cheltenham race but was unfancied (20-1), unfit and his stable was out of form. He holds Takeroc on Ascot running and won at today’s level with a spirited charge through tired horses at Newbury.

An earlier success for Champion Court (12.45) would boost the chances of Astracad, third to him over further at Aintree before running up to the very smart Al Ferof over today’s CD.

But 9.8 Rileyev is ‘wrong’ about a horse who remains at the right end of the handicap and who suggested at Newbury that he would be well suited to Cheltenham’s stiff finish.

1.55 Cheltenham Last year’s winner of this, Mossley, was runner-up in the real thing at the Festival in March, and runs in the novices’ chase today.

Deireadh Re and Halley are out-and-out stayers and Sea Of Thunder, half-brother to Macs Joy, may have more speed than them on today’s sound surface. He is a fair offer at 9.8 this morning.

But Rev It Up likes to dominate and the outcome depends on his pace: though it’s a small field, a bold front-run by him could play into the hands of the stayers.

2.30 Cheltenham (Atlantic 4 Gold Cup) It’s Henderson 2, Nicholls 2 for winners in the last eight years, with Nicholls going for a hat-trick today and Henderson probably having produced the best winner, Fondmort (2002).

Since last year’s race, the second horse, Great Endeavour, who was about 12 lengths better than Sunnyhillboy that day, has gone up 15lb.

‘Sunny’ has remained more or less stationary in the ratings because he’s tried, and failed, over longer trips, including when he fell as favourite – Great Endeavour also came down – for the Stewart Family Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

There isn’t much between Quantitativeeasing, Divers and Great Endeavour, with the handicapper having lines to them from Cheltenham in March and November, though I found it strange that he dropped Divers 2lb, although the stable always moves up the gears month by month and I expect him to improve again.

We have two strong clues: Ghizao runs for the sponsors, and Tony McCoy has picked Sunnyhillboy over Quantitaveeasing.

Horses aged six and seven have far and away the best record in this, so Divers (offered at 9.0) and Ghizao (at 9.8) are my two against the field.

Roudoudou Ville jumps very well and Salut Flo could be anything but Sunnyhillboy will never have a better chance of success, and must be the saver.

3.05 Cheltenham (International Hurdle) This race has thrown up two Champion Hurdle winners and a Triumph Hurdle star since 2002 and, as an early decider between Grandouet, Overturn, Pittoni and Menorah, seems sure to produce another star.

Last year’s winner, Menorah, was three out of three at Cheltenham before the Champion Hurdle when he finished seven lengths in front of Overturn, who still has it to prove on this track.

Grandouet is only four and would have to be a Binocular (2008) or a Detroit City (2006); there’s no indication that he is, at this stage.

Pittoni has all the allowances and a good run here would be a championship boost to Thousand Stars. He is an each-way bet at 12.5 in a ‘book’ of offers only marginally overround (at 101%). That means you are in the comfort zone so you pays your money and takes your choice.

Pittoni has McCoy up and, strictly on Punchestown form, he puts Thousand Stars in this with the same weight as Menorah. I know who I’d want to be on.

LAY to win 10pts CHAMPION COURT and BET 2.3pts win TRAFFIC ARTICLE (12.45 Cheltenham)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: 3.4pts win RILEYEV (1.20 Cheltenham)
BET 2.2pts win SEA OF THUNDER (1.55 Cheltenham)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: 3.7pts win DIVERS and 3.4pts win GHIZAO plus 1.2pts win (stakes saver) SUNNYHILLBOY (2.30 Cheltenham)
BET 1.7pts win and place PITTONI (3.05 Cheltenham)

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