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Cheltenham Showcase Day Two tips

cheltenham-festival-bookmakersIt’s the second day of the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham and three bets have caught Lewis Jones’ eye…..

Saturday’s card is headed up by two valuable handicap chases, which both have a big bearing on future races, like the Paddy Power Gold Cup, run at Cheltenham between now and Christmas.

First up is the two and half mile Equus-Fine Dining At Festival Handicap Chase. This particular race has a habit of producing significant clues for the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup run at Cheltenham’s Open meeting.

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Last year’s winner Nadiya De La Vega finished third to Al Ferof while the 2009 champ Poquelin ran a cracker in the big one to finish a strong staying second behind Tranquil Sea.

A lot of guesswork is needed for punters as many of these runners are making their seasonal debuts and fitness could be an issue.

A safety first option probably is the best way to attack this race from betting perspective. Easter Meteor will be popular after finishing second in this race last year and running well behind Champion Court on his last run in April.

However, he’s now 14lbs higher in the weights than last season and will need to be pretty sharp first time out to take this.

One horse that is handicapped attractively is the old boy TARTAK, who gets the nod at a tasty each-way price.

Just over two years ago Victor Dartnall’s stable stalwart won a similar handicap to this over course and distance off a mark of 149.

His form and handicap mark has nosedived since then, but it’s hard to knock his performances when running over this course in distance.

He’s finished sixth, fourth, seventh and a very impressive third when venturing back to Prestbury Park and this race is arguably the weakest and most winnable opportunity he’s had since dropping to around this mark, which is now 130 – 19lbs below his last winning figure.

He may lack a bit of class and will become outpaced at a crucial stage of the race but he’s a real trier and strong jumper. With the lack of real classy handicap sorts in opposition, the 10-year-old may just have the sheer determination to pick his rivals off up at the Cheltenham hill.

The second intriguing chase contest is the Showcase Trophy Handicap Chase and it’s a race that revolves around the chances of progressive chaser Mister Grez. Dan Skelton’s chaser has sneaked in for this high-class event and carries just a 6lb penalty for a runaway success on his UK debut at Ffos Las, where he was thrown in off a mark of 113.

Even with his penalty, the make-up of the handicap means he’s still running 11lbs out of the weights, yet that may not be enough to stop him. He’ll lead the market but despite his obvious claims, the hustle and bustle of a Cheltenham handicap may just come a bit too soon for him. We’re looking elsewhere for value.

Our eyes have been drawn to Cheltenham specialist BALTHAZAR KING has won the last two renewals for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson and is now back to the same mark as he won off last season.

The drying ground will suit this four-time course winner and he’s guaranteed to be fit after winning a valuable cross country event in France just over a month ago.

Our final bet of the day runs in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices´ Chase as we are excited about seeing young Paul Nicholls inmate DARK LOVER make his bow over the larger obstacles.

Nicholls has called the horse his leading novice contender in this two mile division this year.

Classy enough to be rated 148 over hurdles despite being lightly raced he should take all the beating whilst getting weight from his market rival Balder Succes.

Saturday Tips

Saturday Tips

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