AWAY from the random chance of winning on the roulette wheel or hitting a royal flush, ITV Racing's Oli Bell, trainer Ben Pauling, jockey Nick Scholfield and Racing Post's Pricewise, Tom Segal, were tasked with sharing their best information on this year's Cheltenham Festival hopefuls at the glitzy Reading South Grosvenor Casino.

Kicking things off with the race that will get underway with the Festival’s famous 'Roar', Segal was immediately called upon for his take on the Supreme Novices' Hurdle:

"Getabird is way too short. I’m a price guy. He might win, and the more rain the better his chance, but there's a lack of love for him in Ireland and 13/8 is the wrong price."

The Racing Post tipster seemed to have already swayed the minds of Scholfield and Pauling too, who were also happy to look elsewhere.

"Claimantakinforgan will relish Cheltenham and finished third in the Champion Bumper last season," argued Pauling, while Scholfield put forward Amy Murphy's Kalashnikov: "the way he did it at Newbury was mightily impressive and he could be helped by soft ground again."

With enough going against Getabird, Segal revealed he'd be backing Tom George's Summerville Boy.

The Arkle paints a similar picture to the Supreme, in that Willie Mullins is responsible for the short-price favourite of the race in the shape of Footpad. And, like with Getabird in the opener, the panel weren't convinced.

"Footpad is too short. I think the others are faster than him. I like to look at race times and Saint Calvados' run at Warwick was very quick," said Segal.

"You have to take Saint Calvados very seriously. His jumping has been incredible and he couldn't have been more impressive at Warwick," agreed Pauling.

Opposing favourites wasn't to be a theme of the night, though, with the panel in agreement that Buveur D'Air was a banker for the Champion Hurdle.

"There is nothing that can beat Buveur D'Air – he’s far too good for them," said Segal.

Multiple Festival-winning jockey Scholfield agreed, "he’s a proper good thing and I simply can’t see him getting beat."

On the remainder of day one's card, Ben Pauling unearthed one for the mares' hurdle: "La Bague Au Roi has a huge chance in this if she runs. She's the best horse Warren Greatrex has ever trained and has the ability to give Apple's Jade a real scare," said Pauling.

"Matt Chapman has described him as Jesus Christ in equine form. is he right?" quipped Bell, as he opened up discussion on the odds-on favourite for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, Samcro.

Pauling and Segal thought his price was too short based on his win in the Deloitte Novices' Hurdle. "The clock tells you it wasn’t a brilliant performance and he’s not an 8/11 shot - it’s a shocking price," said Segal.

With the ground likely to come up soft on the opening day, Segal flagged the chances of another runner: "I spoke with Derek O’Connor recently, and he feels quite strongly that his Vision Des Flos would have a chance on very soft ground."

Betway Champion Chase hot-pot Altior was up for discussion next.

“I think 4/6 is a brilliant price. He’s the perfect racehorse in my opinion – a real good thing,” said dual Festival winner Scholfield, while Pauling revealed he already has a vested interest: “He’s the only bet I’ve had. Someone told me Altior was still available at 7/4 so I had a big bet on him. I think he’s a very special horse.”

Elsewhere on the second day, Pauling all but confirmed his Le Breuil was set to run in the Coral Cup, while Segal was keen on the chances of Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

In the shape of the Stayers’ Hurdle, Thursday looks to have the most open of the four feature races, although that didn’t stop two of our experts making Sam Spinner their NAP of the week.

“Sam Spinner is the best bet of the week. This horse has put Jedd O’Keefe and Joe Colliver back on the map,” said Bell, and Segal agreed: “I love Sam Spinner. He’s a wonderful horse and the story of the Festival.”

Adding, “I still can’t believe how well he won at Ascot and he would be 5/2, not 5/1, if trained by Willie Mullins.”

Nick Scholfield’s suggestion that L’Ami Serge was a good each-way bet sparked a few sniggers and groans, although he did make the point that the horse will be ridden simply for a place.

“L’Ami Serge is a great each-way bet – he’ll come from off the pace and I’ll think he’ll run into a place,” said Scholfield.

Mullins’ Un De Sceaux certainly looks the one to beat in the Ryanair, though, and that’s despite the presence of the great Cue Card.

“Cue Card ran really well at Ascot last time. He’ll give everyone a good run for their money, but he is getting on a bit,” admitted Scholfield.

Segal also suggested that Colin Tizzard’s 12-year-old may be past his best. “He looked exhausted at the end at Ascot last time out. It was looked a very hard race. If he wins after that he’s the toughest horse we’ve ever seen. Un De Sceaux could go off odds-on if it gets really soft.”

Come Friday, the ground for the Gold Cup could be very testing and that might cause issues for race-favourite Might Bite.

“Nico [de Boinville] would admit that Might Bite wouldn’t want soft ground, but he has the feeling of being something special and I’m going to stick with him and hope he gets up the hill,” said Pauling.

Segal felt that the Irish could land a third Gold Cup in a row in the shape of Our Duke: “I love Our Duke, his performance in the Irish National was exceptional. Only top horses win handicaps like that.”

Native River is the race’s second favourite. “He’s a Welsh National winner and a Hennessy winner. He’ll stay and travel. He made a perfect reappearance at Newbury and this could be his year,” said Scholfield.

Panel’s selections:

Oli Bell - Sam Spinner.

Tom Segal - Sam Spinner.

Nick Sholfield - L’Ami Serge e/w.

Ben Pauling - Gowiththeflow.

Oli Bell, Ben Pauling, Nick Scholfield and Tom Segal were speaking at's Cheltenham Festival preview at their Reading South branch.