Racing column: Salut Flo can mark return with win

SOME magnificent racing this weekend and we start our preview at Cheltenham where the feature race is the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup which sees the return to the track of Salut Flo (2.25) who is returning from a 639-day lay-off for David Pipe having been a significant absentee for the Paddy Power last month.

The selection has gone very well fresh in the past and is only 7lbs higher than when running away with the Byrne Group Plate at last year’s Festival.

He has obviously had his training problems and first time out might be the time to catch him with the forecast good ground ideal.

AP McCoy takes over on Colour Squadron and is taken to reverse last month’s form with Johns Spirit who is 2lbs worse off.

Paul Nicholls has saddled the winner of the race three times in the last four years and he is represented by Grandioso but he was below par on his only previous start at Cheltenham and may prefer a faller track.

The New One was, visually, very impressive when winning at Kempton on his reappearance and is 4/9 to land the International Hurdle but last year’s winner Zarkandar (5/2) beat the favourite at Aintree over 2m 4f back in the spring and he will be hard to pass.

There is unlikely to be as much between them as the betting would suggest and, at the current prices, the Nicholls horse must be the recommendation.

Kings Palace (1.50) couldn’t have been more impressive when scoring here back in October although it should be noted that the runner up (Creepy) palpably failed to stay although he has, subsequently, franked the form back at 2m 5f.

At Doncaster, I like the booking of Noel Fehily for Presence Felt stepping back up in trip but I felt Fix It Right (11.55) had more to offer when scoring over C&D last time and can confirm the form with runner up Any Given Day on 4lb worse terms.

The BetVictor Summit Juvenile Hurdle looks at the mercy of unbeaten Royal Irish Hussar (2.05) who loves decent ground and is likely to be out away for the winter before being prepared for the Triumph.

Off The Ground (2.40) has been raised 15lbs by the handicapper but, as long as the ground remains good, he can follow up in a fascinating little race.

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