WE had a fantastic meeting at Gowran on Thursday but it has been largely pedestrian stuff in Britain this week.

That changes by some degree at Cheltenham this afternoon. My usual punting waters are the handicaps but they look extremely tricky and I have a couple of each-way fancies, but I believe it is time for one or two horses to stake their Festival claims. A banker treble might be my bet.

1.15 Cheltenham; Court Master

Is bottom weight here and 1lb out of the weights but may go off a little too big for me to resist in this seriously competitive novices’ handicap chase.

Michael Scudamore is a very good trainer, especially of steeplechasers, but there are many more fashionably-trained runners in the field, which should help his odds.

Court Master has been improved by a wind op but has taken well to chasing and hopefully will use his jumping ability and weight concession to stay with some potentially classy rivals.

He has jumped well around Newbury, which is always a plus for me, and acts on soft ground. He has had only seven runs in his career, so might hopefully have more upside than the market gives him credit for.

1.50 Cheltenham: My Way

Was a disappointment last season over hurdles but several times was well backed, so clearly shows more at home than he has yet to do on the racecourse.

A second wind operation looked last time as though it might finally enable him to start showing what he really can do over fences.

He was in the highest grade handicap he had ever ran in at Ascot and ended up a good second, albeit at a respectable distance coming through horses late on. Hopefully, that will have boosted his confidence, something which might have been needed given his fall on his reappearance.

Unusually for a Paul Nicholls runner he is bottom weight in an extremely tight Cheltenham handicap. He might just have a little improvement in him, which his exposed rivals are lacking.

2.25 Cheltenham: Santini

This one was my RSA banker last season and ran a cracker but didn’t manage to win, which was a little disappointing.

It would be easy to be a little disappointed with his reappearance effort, even though he won, but he has had a wind op since then and I am definitely still a believer and take the view he remains a Gold Cup horse.

He will definitely appreciate every single extra yard he is asked to run over and this is his chance to re-establish himself.

I am a massive fan of Slate House but he has such speed that on a track such as Cheltenham I believe he is a 2m5f horse.

3.00 Cheltenham: King Roland

Looks an exciting stayer and is taken to confirm his position towards the front of the market for the Festival.

He was beaten on his reappearance at Newbury but needed the run and the extra distance he will get on Saturday. He bolted up at a very short price last time, which told us little, but he is exciting.

3.35 Cheltenham: Paisley Park

It is absolutely over for me with L’ami Serge because, after he curled up at Ascot last time, I cannot stand the pain anymore!

However, I still think the frustrating 10-year-old is the danger to the magnificent Paisley Park. Emma Lavelle’s champion possibly needs to win this very impressively if he is to scare off the Festival challenge of Willie Mullins – and Benie Des Dieux - but all the signs were good on his reappearance and he is as solid a performer as a racehorse could be.

* Dave is betting pundit for Racing TV, the home of British and Irish racing, which is offering a free one-month trial to the leading horseracing channel. Visit www.racingtv.com/freetrial for more