1.30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle
Some cracking contenders here and all have something to recommend them, but Solo really does appear hard to fault. He looked like a potential monster on his UK debut in the Adonis Hurdle and his trainer has been comparing him to some of his best-ever French imports. Harry Cobden has not had the best week to date, but he’s an exciting young jockey and can deliver the win. Burning Victory was as good as any of these in his flat career and has snuck in beneath the radar after landing a little touch last time – he clearly won’t mind the choppy ground and looks the pick at the prices.
Bet – Burning Victory
2.10 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
Ciel De Neige and Mohaayed are obvious types but they look short enough in the betting and at a chunky price Moon Over Germany looks a belting each-way play. He represents the De Bromhead/Blackmore combo already enjoying a good week and is completely unexposed over hurdles for the trainer, he seems to have been teed up for this. Rathhill’s career has been brief and varied but he does look well treated on his Newbury novice hurdle win from a host of subsequent winners, he looks worth a cover shot with his stable going well.
Bets – Moon Over Germany; saver, Rathhill.
2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
I think Latest Exhibition’s Leopardstown win is much the strongest form on offer here and he might finally be the Grade 1 horse Paul Nolan deserves. I was impressed at the manner in which Cobblers Way battled on having been headed that day and he might yet reverse the form with a greater emphasis on pure stamina. The best of the British could yet be Redford Road, a horse that brings the only c&d winning form into the race and is readily excused his most recent flop when his stable wasn’t right, he is exactly the sort of battle-hardened type that tend to outperform themselves in this.
Bet – Latest Exhibition
3.30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
Last season’s RSA Chase really does look like strong form and I expect this to concern Santini & Delta Work. The latter has been my pick for this race all season, but he’s a light-framed horse and isn’t going to want tacky, chopped up ground. Santini possibly has an even nicer action, but he has loads of experience on the choppy ground here and has been trained all his life for this race. I’m not this horse’s biggest fan but he really does feel like the answer in the circumstances. I’ve nothing against Al Boum Photo, but he faces a host of new dangers this season and will need to do even better to retain the crown. Clan Des Obeaux just doesn’t seem a Cheltenham horse to me and might be a place lay angle.
Bet – Santini (reluctantly)
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4.10 – St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
A bad renewal, but at least that gives it some appeal as a betting medium. There are big issues with all of the key contenders but less than most with Billaway who would be a first winner in the race for the Mullins’. On balance I’d rather have an each-way dart at a price and Top Wood looks the ay to go. He might be 13, but he’s been lightly raced and is so consistent in this sphere – he has been placed for the last 2 years and seems sure to go well again.
Bet – Top Wood Each-Way
4.50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase
A good effort by Mister Fisher in the JLT would bode well for the chances of Lisp who does look like he can rate higher as a chaser than hurdler and has a good festival experience. However, class often comes to the fore in this race and perhaps Great Field could be the answer. He was an impressive Grade 2 winner as a novice and has kept top company since, losing his confidence and jumping fluency on the way down. He is an interesting x-factor on his first start for Jonjo O’Neill with the handicapper giving him a chance in a typically winnable renewal.
Bet – Great Field
5.30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Rather like the Pertemps, there seems to have been a raft of horses laid out for this contest and the value may be away from those had have led the market ante-post. Horses that find a lot for pressure and stay further have a good record in this and Assemble could fit the bill for last season’s winning trainer. His bumper and novice hurdle form is rock solid and Oakley Brown seemed to get a great tune out of him a couple of times this season, this may be a long-term plan. Great White Shark looked half-interesting given he didn’t really look off on his two tries this winter.
Bet – Assemble