- Officially rated 124 to 133 - four winners in four runnings
- Set to carry at least 11st 2lb - 4/4
- Did not win over hurdles until third start or later - 4/4
- By a Group 1-winning sire - 4/4
- Pre-race RPR (Racing Post Rating) of at least 118 - 4/4
- Won last time out - 3/4
Only four winners to go on in this race's short history, but there's already some strong trends emerging with classy juveniles faring best, and all four had a distinct connection with French breeding.
Last year's winner Crack Away Jack carried top-weight of 11st 10lb which is what ex-French MR THRILLER (8/1 Ladbrokes NRNB) will have to hump to victory if connections opt for this race over the Triumph. Interestingly, as he's already set to carry the maximum, he will not be burdened with any extra weight if winning Saturday's Imperial Cup, as I expect him to. Therefore, there's a very good case for backing him now, especially as we have the safeguard of non-runner-no-bet. If he wins on Saturday, there's no way he'll be 8/1 for this and, if he runs in the Triumph instead (or any other race for that matter), we'll get our money back.
Take him out and the race has a different complexion altogether, and many punter's idea of the winner will be the current ante post favourite Alexander Severus (4/1 from 7/1 Ladbrokes) - but not mine. His trainer Edward O'Grady has a terrific record at the festival (18 wins) and he looked an unlucky loser on his handicap debut at Leopardstown last time out. However, the assessor has taken no chances by raising him to 134 and it's worth noting that his sire Montjeu's record at Cheltenham is a pitiful 0-21 with his progeny, which suggests they struggle to get up the formidable hill. In such a competitive race, he's a lay at the current 7 (Betfair).
If backing Mr Thriller is plan A, we need a plan B and it's name is RONALDO DES MOTTES, yet another winning juvenile hurdler from the David Pipe camp of excellence. He hasn't done much wrong since coming from France (another with Gallic connections), winning his first two starts before finding Nictory Vote (9/1 Ladbrokes) too good at Taunton. However, that race would have come too quickly after his Sandown success a few days earlier - had to run to qualify for a handicap mark - and connections reckon he'll be even better on quicker going.
Even with Mr Thriller in the field, I can't see him being any bigger than his current 12/1 (Paddy Power) on the day so it's worth going in now.
Mr Thriller 2pts @ 8/1 NRNB Ladbrokes
Ronaldo Des Mottes 1pt each way @ 12/1 NRNB Paddy Power