THERE are some absolutely key race days fast approaching in the run-up to Cheltenham Festival.
One of them will take place at the home of jumps this Saturday – but I'm looking elsewhere for a big return.
DEMACHINE was my tip at Ascot’s abandoned card over the weekend and I see he has been chalked up at 25-1 for Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
It’s a tougher race but I still feel there is a big one incoming.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to the Festival, there is one that's really caught my eye.
GELINO BELLO at 25-1 in the Stayers' Hurdle could be worth a small poke (12-1 with William Hill NRNB).
I've been told Nicholls could send his former Grade 1 winner back over the smaller obstacles.
You'll remember the seven-year-old quite convincingly got the better of Gentleman At Arms at the Aintree Grand National meeting last year.
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He has been schooling well over hurdles after a topsy-turvy novice chasing campaign.
NICKY NOT HAPPY
THERE were fireworks at Seven Barrows around the breakfast table on Friday morning.
Nicky Henderson gave his team of staff a good ‘talking-to’ after Sunracing exclusively revealed whispers of a setback to Constitution Hill.
Henderson’s star, 1-4 for the Champion Hurdle and arguably the most exciting horse in the country, was apparently ‘stiff’ after his spin on Hendo’s gallops.
Henderson would rather keep news like this quiet, and understandably so.
He was less than impressed by our late evening call to follow up our tip… and the only moles Hendo wants to hear about are of the small tunnel-digging variety in his back garden.
Constitution Hill will no doubt be right as rain in a couple of days – if he isn’t already.
But pressure builds and if he so much as has a hair out of place panic will set in. Keep calm and carry on, Nicky.
MAKE YOUR MARC
MARCO GHIANI is riding out in Dubai as he gets ready to make his comeback in early March.
The ex-champion apprentice has been banned since September after he tested positive for cocaine.
Ghiani is determined to get back on the straight ‘n narrow after bursting onto the scene two seasons ago.
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His boss Stuart Williams has stood by him but Ghiani needs more support to take his career to the next level.
Charlie Hills will use his skills a lot more next season as will the likes of Jane Chapple-Hyam.
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