Cheltenham BetVictor Gold Cup: Count on the Meribel to go close in Saturday's feature at Cheltenham

SATURDAY'S BetVictor Gold Cup is a proper punting heat and a real early season highlight.

Slate House has been well-backed and heads the market at a relatively short price for a race like this, with Siruh Du Lac and Spiritofthegames next in.

Saint Calvados looks set to lumber top-weight and comes here in top nick, with Joseph O'Brien's Us And Them bringing Grade 1 form to the table.

However his jumping can let him down and it's the forgotten COUNT MERIBEL I want to be with at this stage.

He has plenty in his favour ahead of the two-and-a-half mile test, definitely his best trip for now.

While he's not the biggest of chasers, he jumps well on the whole and won a decent novice chase at this meeting last season over course and distance.

This is his first start in handicap company over fences and while his form is hard to weigh up, a mark of 146 doesn't look overwhelming.

He was well beat in the RSA and failed to fire at Ascot prior to that. But he went well enough for much of the way at the Festival and three miles in the mud wouldn't be his thing.

Hopefully the worst of the rain misses Prestbury Park this weekend, as much of his best form has come on a better surface.

And last time out he showed he has not lost his way with a creditable run behind Gold Cup hope  Lostintranslation at Carlisle.

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It wasn't so much he was only beat over two lengths by the Tizzard star, but the way he jumped and beat horses like Kildisart with relative ease.

He goes well at this time of the year and fitness will not be a worry whatsoever with Twiston-Davies always having a pot like this in his sights.

The other horse on the radar is Kerry Lee's Happy Diva. She was brought down in this last year when going well and not asked for anything and returns here for another shot off a 3lbs higher mark but a slightly improved horse.

She ran well behind Guitar Pete at Wetherby last time – whom she is slightly better off with this time – and is entitled to come forward for that.

BetVictor Gold Cup Antepost Tip

COUNT MERIBEL – 14-1 (with Ladbrokes)

She's a smooth traveller and jumper and won't be found wanting with a proper gallop.

She also goes well here and her form behind Aso over course and distance on New Year's Day gives her a big shout with a bit more luck in running.

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