My latest antepost tip for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival is one of this season's 'talking horses' - but not for the race I've seen many suggest him for...
When Willie Mullins confirmed that Fact To File would go straight over fences this season, it feels like the racing world instantly pigeon-holed him as an out-and-out stayer who's bound for the Brown Advisory.
Don't get me wrong, he certainly could end up in the three-miler, but it's far for certain at this stage. In fact, I make it more likely he ends up in the Turners over 2m4f, despite the respective antepost markets suggesting otherwise.
Let's not forget, this is a horse who had the required speed to finish second in a Champion Bumper (replay below), beaten only by the flat-bred A Dream To Share who had previously got the better of him by a similar margin on decent ground over an even shorter distance.
We know the Brown Advisory can be a tough race, so I don't think Mullins will be in any rush to send the selection there given his inexperience - and because he has several others that look more suited for that assignment.
Gaelic Warrior is our antepost favourite for that and Mullins has already name-dropped the race for the Grade 1-winning hurdler. Nick Rockett looks a stayer if I've ever seen one, and the likes of Grangeclare West, Minella Cocooner and Klassical Dream shouldn't be forgotten either.
I'd try not to get drawn into a game of 'JP bingo' though. Mr. McManus has a strong crop of novice chasers this year, so it's highly-likely he'll have multiple runners for some of these races - and even so, it's common knowledge that Willie is the boss when it comes to his string.
That's the case for his target, but what about his ability? Is the six-year-old, who will be seven come March, good enough to win at the top level, on the biggest stage?
On the evidence of his three bumper runs, you'd have to think so. Right now, the Champion Bumper is working out well and while I'd never use this as the primary basis for a bet, you can't help but be positive about him taking to fences given the vibes coming out of Closutton.
"He has everything you'd want in a chaser - size, scope, temperament - and for me he's one who could make up into a real top-class chaser."
Willie Mullins on Fact To File
It's fair to say he's been one of the talking horses coming into the season, and I'm hopeful he can make a splash in what, at least at this early stage, looks a wide open division.
Now's the time to get him in the book as he's a potential runner in a red-hot beginners' chase at Naas on Sunday that also features the likes of the aforementioned Gaelic Warrior and Corbetts Cross - and Betfred are currently an industry-best price.
Stay tuned to Betfred Insights for more Cheltenham Tips as we build-up to the 2024 Festival