With plenty of high class Graded races taking place this weekend the one we think stands out and is worth watching for the indications it could give for the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival is the Grade 2 Cotswald Chase.
The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup victor Frodon is back at Cheltenham once again, this time stepping back into Grade Two company for the Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase.Paul Nicholls' charge has been on a roll this term, with two victories from three, but also ran a cracker at Prestbury Park when finishing runner-up to Baron Alco in the BetVictor - again off top weight back in November.
The 7yo owned by Paul Vogt began this season with victory in this category in the Old Roan at Aintree, and a bold display once again will back-up his already strong market support for a second crack at the Ryanair Chase at the Festival back here in under six weeks time.
The challengers look very dangerous however, and Elegant Escape - crowned the Welsh Grand National winner over Christmas, arrives here with all guns blazing.
After his seasonal return at Sandown began with a win, the 7yo was not disgraced when finishing a good second in a messy Ladbrokes Trophy behind Sizing Tennessee, before achieving top handicap success at Chepstow.
Colin Tizzard's runner looks destined to continue over this staying distance at the upcoming Festival, by launching a crack at the Magners Gold Cup.
On his first start of the campaign, he finished a long way clear of Nicky Henderson's grey Terrefort, who we will be seeing for the first time since that major letdown.
The 6yo will be looking to relight that spark that saw him produce several glittering performances - most notably in last season's JLT, finishing best of the British candidates and only seven lengths behind Irish winner Shattered Love, who held the advantage with the mares allowance.He has only raced five times in Britain; all over fences - three of which were wins; two in Grade One company.
Valtor - like Terrefort, sports the two-tone green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and will be looking to back up his one and only start in Britain to date - which was a victory in the Listed Garrard Silver Cup three days before Christmas.The 10yo binned his entries last weekend for a shot at Grade Two glory, whilst Minella Rocco makes his long awaited return for Philip Hobbs.
The 2017 Gold Cup runner-up - who finished a shorthead in front of subsequent 2018 winner Native River, has been blighted by injury problems for the best part of a year, but is looking to make a late surge towards the big prizes between now and the end of the season.
Perhaps a tilt at the Grand National is on the horizon, but a useful runaround will be required here.American has more P's in his form guide than numbers in the last twelve months, and faces a tough ask, whilst Black Corton - without the assistance of Bryony Frost, is also looking to get back to winning ways for the former Champion Trainer.Allysson Monterg looks the outsider of the field for Richard Hobson.