Cheltenham looks set to beat the weather on Saturday and the Grade Two Argento Chase, registered as the Cotswold Chase, is one of several top notch races on Festival Trials Day. The race serves as an important trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and betting is wide open after current Gold Cup favourite Bob's Worth was unfortunately withdrawn.
Nicky Henderson's impressive Hennessy Gold Cup winner will head straight to Cheltenham Festival now and that leaves Tidal Bay as ante-post favourite for this weekend's Argento, although Paul Nicholls' 12-year-old is a doubt for the 3m, 1f contest after he was found to be slightly lame. A decision on whether the Flemensfirth gelding runs will be made on Saturday morning as he looks to maintain the upward curve that saw him finish a narrow second to Bob's Worth in the Hennessy before landing a last-gasp success in the Lexus.
Tidal Bay is currently 2/1 favourite with William Hill for Saturday but the value could lie with 4/1 shot Grands Crus, who is bidding to end a three-race losing run. David Pipe's gelding has struggled to hit the exceptional heights he reached as a novice, which included victory over Bob's Worth and Silviniaco Conti at Kempton, and a return to three miles should suit after an encouraging third in the King George VI at Kempton last time out.
Next best in the betting is Imperial Commander at 5/1 and the 12-year-old is making his much-anticipated return to the racetrack after 680 days away. The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has an excellent record at this course and he will make his first outing since pulling up lame in the 2011 Cheltenham showpiece. The veteran will be joined by Little Josh from the stables of Nigel Twiston-Davies and his front-running stablemate is a 33/1 shot.
Meanwhile, recent Peterborough Chase runner-up Hunt Ball (8/1) will bid to get back to winning ways for Kieran Burke after landing seven races last year, although his last success was in a novice handicap at the Festival last March. The 8-year-old would like better ground but connections preferred a crack at this race rather than Saturday's handicap ahead of a potential run in the Gold Cup.
Recent Aintree winner Wayward Prince (12/1) adds quality to the racecard after finishing second in the Charlie Hall this season, while Charlie Hall third Midnight Chase is 14/1 to land a second successive Argento title. Neil Mulholland's gelding always goes well at Cheltenham and if the ground dries suitably he should bounce back from a disappointing run in the Lexus last time.
Donald McCain's Weird Al is also looking to bounce back after a laboured fourth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his reappearance and last year's Charlie Hall winner demands respect at 14/1 with Hills. Cape Tribulation can also be backed at 14/1, while recent Grade Three course and distance winner Quartz De Thaix is a 16/1 punt. Calgary Bay (33/1) and Hey Big Spender (40/1) complete Saturday's field but it is Grand Crus who could be set to return to winning ways.
2/1 Tidal Bay
4/1 Grands Crus
5/1 Imperial Commander
8/1 Hunt Ball
12/1 Wayward Prince
12/1 Weird Al
14/1 Midnight Chase
14/1 Cape Tribulation
16/1 Quartz De Thaix
33/1 Little Josh
33/1 Calgary Bay
40/1 Hey Big Spender
Odds supplied by WilliamHill.com, with best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish horse racing.
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