Familiar duo in Cheltenham prize-hunt

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The three-day November Meeting at Cheltenham got underway on Friday and action gathers pace on Saturday with some exciting races down for decision. Here are three fancies to run well at Prestbury Park.

West Approach, Saturday 2.25 Cheltenham @ 14/1

The big race is the BetVictor Gold Cup and it promises to be fiercely competitive. Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson landed Cheltenham’s showpiece prize in March when Native River led the Gold Cup field a merry dance from the front and they might have another big pot in their grasp here with West Approach.

A half-brother to Thistlecrack, he made a pleasing return to form last month at the Showcase Meeting here over 3m1f but has for some time been one that looked like he might benefit from a drop in distance.

West Approach gets that now and is on a decent racing weight at 10st 6lb for his heat. Tizzard has been banging in the winners recently and is won’t be a surprise to see this runner going well on the turn for home underneath the champion jockey.

Lungarno Palace, Saturday 3.30 Cheltenham @ 20/1

Trainer Fergal O’Brien has every right to be confident in his team just now, with a 26% strike rate over the last fortnight.
Lungarno Palace has returned from a summer break seemingly much-improved, just about grabbing a Stratford novice heat despite a mistake at the last on his first start back.

He was then spotted doing some good late work from the rear of the field at the Showcase Meeting here last month in a race won by First Assignment, hot favourite to win the Listed contest that precedes this one.

That was his first attempt over 2m5f and, with his stamina having held out, it is hoped that he’ll be ridden more forward now and a get into a challenge position with less energy spent.

He runs off the same mark of 127 and Lungarno Palace is a definite each-way player in his field if he builds on his previous visit to the track.

Montestrel, Saturday 12.40 Cheltenham @ 9/2

The JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle opens the Cheltenham card and Nicky Henderson will be hoping to see Never Adapt follow in the footsteps of last year’s ready winner Apple’s Shakira. The French import is respected but can be taken on at a very short price.

Montestrel was fairly friendless in the betting at Chepstow last month on debut but defied that for a winning start and Lizzie Kelly’s mount is a value alternative here.

That form has worked out strongly, with Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin an easy winner at Kempton next time out and the third, Elysees, notching wins at Warwick and Ludlow.

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