Five Horses To Follow This Weekend - 22/01/2019

1. Minella Rocco

The 2017 Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco is back after almost twelve months on the sidelines for unknown reasons, and is ready to stake his last minute claims for future success towards the end of the current season.

Philip Hobbs sends his 9yo for the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham this Saturday, where although there are more proven runners in the field, he will be hoping for a bold display to boost his overall fitness and sharpness.

Stamina assured, he will use this run to brush away the cobwebs, and get his career back on track - with a possible tilt towards the Aintree Grand National on the horizon.

Four of his last seven runs he has failed to complete the course, so plenty to prove, but great to see him back.

2. Champ

Britain's leading hope for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle - Champ, looks set to tackle the trial at Cheltenham on Saturday - officially registered as the Classic Novices Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson's 7yo has been in stunning form this term, with four wins since May, including in Grade One company on his latest start against some top recruits of the division.

The form stacks up, and there is no surprise to see him at the forefront of the betting for Day Two's curtain raiser at the Cheltenham Festival. Should put in another bold bid.

3. Dingo Dollar

Dingo Dollar will be one the leading fancies amongst punters ahead of the weekend, as he takes his place in the Doncaster feature - the Sky Bet Listed Chase on Saturday.

Almost to the day since his previous course and distance winner, his most recent result was finishing a creditable third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury back in December.

At the time, the form did not boast all that strong, but since then the second Elegant Escape has cruised home in the Welsh Grand National, the fourth Beware The Bear hosed up at Cheltenham on New Years Day, with the fifth West Approach reverting back to hurdles and finishing runner up in the JLT Long Walk at Ascot.

All of a sudden, we question how good Sizing Tennessee must be but for now, Dingo Dollar can consolidate the form further and looks a major player in a race that shreds off two furlongs.

4. Midnight Shadow

Ten months ago, Midnight Shadow was sent off a 1/4f in a Class 3 Novices Hurdle Qualifier at Haydock, when being carried out by Keyboard Gangster therefore unseating Danny Cook.

It appeared this now 6yo could not buy any luck, after three finished prior to that as a runner-up. Fast forward to now, and his fortunes have somewhat turned, and excluding a poor run where he had excuses in the Greatwood, he has been in stunning form and looks a star performer in the Stayers Division.

After his win at Aintree in December, Sue Smith's Scottish Champion Hurdler landed the Relkeel on New Years Day at Prestbury Park, and has several lengths in hand on some of these rivals he will meet on Saturday.

Must now prove his form overrules that of the Long Walk at Ascot, where Paisley Park looks the main danger.

5. Lady Buttons

The Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday looks to be a battle of several leading Mares from Britain, and Lady Buttons can continue her fine season for Philip Kirby with yet another win here.

She caught the eye on Ladbrokes Trophy day at Newbury when cruising to a comfortable success over two miles. She then stepped up to 2m4f amongst Listed company over this course and distance last time out, and again looked immortal.

Now rising again to Grade Two, her challengers may once again be unable to stop her, but it will be much tougher.