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The Inside Track on the Byrne Group Plate

The Byrne Group Plate is often seen as a poor relative of the premier middle-distance handicap chases run at Cheltenham earlier in the season. However, with most of the principals from those races entered here, that is not necessarily the case this year.

The market is headed by Tap Night who has run in all three this season, shaping with more promise each time. It’s fair to say Tony McCoy wasn’t at his most rigorous last time and he looks to have been laid out for this.

He seems to have found his price now, however, and for a bet it’s best to look elsewhere.

JOHNS SPIRIT ran out an easy winner of the Paddy Power in November and although beaten last time, his trainer Jonjo O’Neill has been making bullish noises and giving plausible excuses for that defeat.

If he’d been 100 per cent on his last run in December then they’d be a good chance that we’d be talking him up as a Ryanair contender right now, and off 148 he still looks feasibly handicapped if everything clicks.

Venetia Williams has a fantastic record in the race and she still has eight entries at the six-day stage. The pick of these would be last year’s winner Carrickboy. He’s been a bit in and out this season but this has surely been the plan for some time.

Off just 4lbs higher than last year, another bold show is expected.

Carrickboy’s win at 50/1 last year was the fourth winner in six years to be sent off at 25/1 or bigger. This year if you wish to be really speculative it could pay to take a chance on King Edmund at monster odds.

Relatively unexposed at the trip still, he has some Festival form and should appreciate the better ground than he’s encountered recently.

Selection: John’s Spirit

Alternative: King Edmund