Cheltenham Festival top racing tip: Midnight River primed for Magners Plate bid

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The short-priced favourite, So Scottish, has potential but in such a big-field handicap there is better value to be found elsewhere, not least with Midnight River, who looks to have been laid out for this by the Skelton yard.

The eight-year-old is very much a favourite of theirs because they have looked after him right from the start, breaking him in and bringing him along with a few setbacks along the way. But the chaser is now flourishing and has produced his three career-best performances (from a total of 16 outings) on his three runs so far this season. The first of them saw him return from a 222-day break to win a seven-runner handicap on the left-handed track at Stratford on his seasonal debut in late October, taking it by no less than 25 lengths from a runner-up who has won since. A couple of weeks later, Midnight River was given a very much tougher task as he was brought here for the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup over an extended two-and-a-half-mile trip.

Off an eight-pound higher mark, he ran an excellent third of 14 behind Ga Law and French Dynamite, both of whom line up for the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase earlier on the card. Following a short break, Midnight River was back here again to land the Paddy Power New Year's Day Handicap over today's trip by a comfortable 2.25 lengths with Harry Skelton later saying that it felt like his mount was just doing a canter the whole way around and that he is much better with some cut in the ground. Midnight River only had to be ridden out to score from 15 rivals, one of whom was one of the market leaders here, Il Ridoto, whom Midnight River had also beaten in the Paddy Power Chase here the time before. He looks a good-value bet to follow-up his latest success under similar conditions, and he has once again been given a short break before being asked to repeat his latest performance. His jockey feels there is a lot more progress yet to come, in which case he can absorb a seven-pound rise and he must be a major player here. Of the others, Jamie Snowden's seven-year-old Datsalrightgino is another who has produced his two career-best efforts on his two latest runs. He finished runner-up of 11 in a Class 2 novices' handicap over this course and distance in late January and then again came second in a Grade 2 novices' event at Kempton in late February -if the new cheekpieces bring about further improvement, then Datsalrightgino can progress further to hold his own at this level.

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