Sky Sports Presenter & Columnist @skysports_ed
Ed Chamberlin looks forward to the Open Meeting at Cheltenham and likes the look of Mon Parrain.
Last Updated: 10/11/11 12:30pm
This is one of my favourite weekends of the year.
The Open Meeting at Cheltenham signals the start for real of the jumps season and will have clues galore for the Festival in March.
The highlight of a brilliant three days is a vintage renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday. It looks horribly competitive for punters and as always in handicap chases at Cheltenham the winner will need to jump well and have an awful lot of luck.
However, finding the winner of this race has fitted a pattern for years now. You need to find a young, progressive second-season chaser who still has a few tricks hidden from the handicapper.
Sky Bet's 3/1 favourite Mon Parrain ticks a lot of the right boxes. His demise on the run-in at Aintree is a mystery for many but having backed him that day I just thought he was a sitting duck after the last for Always Waining, who loves the course and was too good on the day.
Mon Parrain lost no ground to the horses behind him and remains a highly progressive chaser, on a good mark who will take a lot of beating on Saturday. Lots of punters will think 3/1 is far too short already but I think he'll go off around at around 5/2 on Saturday.
The fact that Paul Nicholls galloped him with Kauto Star and Big Bucks at Exeter last week surely tells us a lot. Mon Parrain could easily be a superstar and different class to the rest.
The outsider I fancy (25/1 in to 14/1 with Sky Bet) is Dave's Dream. First time out is the time to catch this horse having won five out of six times on his seasonal re-appearance.
He is deadly when fresh. Dave's Dream was hugely impressive 12 months ago at this meeting and I think this longer trip might suit him. The Henderson team seemed very hopeful when I was at Seven Barrows last week and 14/1 looks far too big.
Over the last few weeks I've put up two horses - Kid Cassidy and Spirit Son - who I hope will repeat the success of last season's three horses to follow. Tocca Ferro was a revelation for us last term and I still think he'll be a star when he returns in February.
The horse to follow from Emma Lavelle's stable this season is Penny Max. This horse showed some decent enough form over hurdles last season but his trainer is convinced Penny Max will be better over fences and she thinks his handicap mark is very 'attractive'.
Keep a very close eye on Penny Max's appearance, which might well be at Plumpton next week. Also keep an eye on the two horses owner David Johnson told us in my Sky Sports interview - Cedre Bleu and Our Father.
The Racing Post Ten-to-Follow competition starts on Friday, which is always good fun to have a stab at. My leading 10 are: Big Bucks, Captain Chris, Hurricane Fly, Long Run, Mon Parrain, Noble Prince, Oscars Well, Peddlers Cross, Sizing Europe, Spirit Son.
A really good week last week with Tottenham landing our bet of the weekend at 5/4 and Chelsea (13/8) and Manchester United (evens) both winning to nil.
I think that's a pattern that will continue over the next few weeks as Sir Alex and Andre Villas-Boas tighten things up at the back following their respective defensive disasters against City and Arsenal.
Manchester City continue to shorten to win the title - now down to 5/6 with Sky Bet - while United drifted a fraction after another 1-0 win to 13/8 and Chelsea remained unchanged at 7/1.
Sky Bet's Premier League title odds: 5/6 Man City, 7/4 Man City, 7/1 Chelsea, 28/1 Arsenal, 40/1 Tottenham, 50/1 Liverpool, 200/1 Newcastle, 2,000/1
We were at Craven Cottage on Super Sunday to watch Tottenham ride their luck against Fulham. I hope that victory was a good tonic for Harry Redknapp, who was watching at home under doctors' orders.
We all wish Harry well and hope to see him back on the touchline soon.