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Jumping HQ grabs the spotlight this weekend with the three day Open meeting. Martin Pipe used to farm this fixture and has one seven of the last ten renewals of Saturday’s feature the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Pipe (fils) has learned a trick or two from the old master and cleverly entered some of Pond House Stables’ better inmates at the five-day declaration stage so he could dictate the weights.

The market has taken the hint and there has been a week long ante-post plunge on lightly-raced and lightly-weighted Vodka Bleu, backed in from 16/1 to 4/1 joint favourite. If you got on at 16/1, well done. But this morning that price looks too skinny. No doubt this horse was a quality novice, but he hasn’t raced for 714 days. If he wins David Pipe has clearly inherited his father’s mantle as a training genius.

At the odds long-time favourite Taranis is better value. This horse is clearly progressive and has been aimed at this race for some time. Though he still looks an attractive bet, he now has to carry top weight which makes his task a lot tougher. However, top class horses such as Cyfor Malta and Our Vic have lumped round plenty of weight in this race and won.

On balance Kandjar D’Allier each-way could be the best option. He was third in this race last year and has only risen one pound in the handicap. His season went sour after that effort, but trainer Alan King admits he made a mistake by running the horse too soon in the Hennessy after his exertions at Cheltenham. He has been treated with kid gloves this season and should be fit after a spin over hurdles.

Later on Cheltenham’s impressive card Star De Mohaison looks like a banker in the Lombard Property Handicap Hurdle. This classy French gelding took both of last season’s premier staying chases for novices and gets into this race of a lowly hurdles handicap mark of 127.

Sunday’s big race is the Greatwood Hurdle and impressive Triumph Hurdle winner Detroit City will no doubt be a warm favourite. He did this column a good turn when winning the Cesarewitch on the flat. However, another Pipe runner Acambo has an each-way chance of getting the better of him over this distance and at the weights.


2:40 Cheltenham Kandjar D’Allier (each-way)

3:10 Cheltenham Star De Mohaison (win)

2:45 Cheltenham (Sunday) Acambo (each-way)

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