PETER BEAUMONT has an anxious few days ahead prior to next Thursday's Cheltenham Gold Cup in which his stable-star, Hussard Collonges, is expected to play a leading role.

A winner or two generally helps the time pass more convivially and to that end Monty's Quest (2.30) is worthy of close inspection in the Edinburgh Novices' Chase at Catterick today.

Beaumont's been going though a rather lean spell of late, but he did have a winner at Haydock on Saturday with Hunters Tweed signalling a welcome return to form for his small, nonetheless select stable.

Monty's Quest has been lightly raced over recent seasons, however, that's not to say he's devoid of ability. Last time out at Ayr for instance, he looked as if he was going to go close after producing a promising forward move shortly after turning for home.

Unfortunately he couldn't quite sustain the effort, seemingly running out of petrol as a result of a gruesome blunder three fences from the finish. Lack of peak fitness, rather than sloppy jumping was the most probable cause of the fencing error Monty's Quest made on that occasion.

If the theory proves correct, Beaumont's useful-looking eight-year-old should have blown away all the cobwebs from his lungs on his Scottish sortie and be ready to do himself justice in the £6,000 event.

In the opening Leeds Selling Hurdle, Stallone (2.00) has far more scope to improve than any of his 17 rivals.

Stallone, quite highly rated on the flat when in the care of Jeremy Noseda at Newmarket, is now trained by Noel Wilson near York.

Clearly Stallone is on the downgrade by virtue of being placed to compete in lowly selling races, nevertheless he's not necessarily going to have to be at his best in order to to score in such poor company.

There was also plenty to like about his latest fifth placing in a far hotter event at Musselburgh, a performance that suggested he wouldn't be long in getting off the mark over timber.

A couple of short-priced favourites likely to oblige are Middlethorpe (3.00) and Inch Perfect (3.30).

Middlethorpe, who won with his head in his chest at Wetherby last week, is once again partnered by Mick Easterby's talented conditional rider, Gino Carenza. Carenza is entitled to claim a valuable 5lbs off the six-year-old's back, although in all frankness it is a luxury he may not require against mainly sub-standard opponents.

Richard Fahey's versatile Inch Perfect has been busy making hay on the all-weather Flat racing circuit over the winter. Despite much success on the level, Inch Perfect has failed on his numerous attempts over hurdles, consequently Fahey has sensibly opted to switch the gelding to fences.

Inch Perfect is a quite a big rangy sort of horse and doubtless Richard is fully satisfied that after some intensive schooling sessions at Malton, he'll not have any problems in handling the bigger obstacles. We are having no luck whatsoever with the nap selections who have been frequently placed, but hardly ever seem to get the breaks in running.

Let's hope Karl Burke's ploy of stepping Zarza Bay (3.50) up to two miles for the first time works the oracle at Lingfield

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