Lewis Jones is raring to go for three days of top-class jumps action from Cheltenham. There are four live Channel 4 races on Friday and he has two each-way bets to go to war with…
Now the fun really starts: it’s the Paddy Power Gold Cup weekend.
The Open Meeting at Cheltenham is the proper starting point of the Jumps season with three days of top-class racing with the feature, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, being run on Saturday.
Friday is the popular Countryside Day, with a traditional country fair atmosphere.
Paddies are going 3/1 on Faugheen to win the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown Sunday!
Add in the thrills of top-class racing, the season’s first Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase over a unique course and some brilliant novice races and you have a sublime day of action on your hands.
This meeting is one that really starts to whet the appetite for the main event in March. It provides key clues and form guides all on three days.
That is shown in the statistic that 63 horses in the last 15 years have run at the Paddy Power meeting and then gone onto win at the Festival that same season.
A whopping five did it last year – Next Sensation, The Package, Uxizandre, Dodging Bullets and The Druids Nephew – therefore watching the races with March in mind certainly is something to think about.
Hopefully we can kick off with a big price winner in the first televised race on Channel 4 at 1.05 with ASTRACAD.
The early 12/1 prices about this chap has severely underestimated his chances in what looks a very winnable race that lacks a handicap good thing. Many punters will be looking at the David Pipe-trained La Vaticane, but he’s making his debut over the bigger obstacles over here and I’m not sure a mark of 134 is that lenient.
I’d much rather back Astracad off 137. His run over course and distance behind the well-fancied Paddy Power Gold Cup entrant Boondooma was a splendid effort as he was only outclassed in the final few furlongs having jumped and travelled like a horse on good terms with himself.
A repeat of that will see him go close.
I’m richly looking forward to seeing recent course winner Pengali Pavilion strut his stuff again at 2.15 but the 6/5 about his chances looks about right.
I can let him win at that price. The same words apply to the chances of More Than That at 1.40 – a World Hurdle winner making his chasing debut. He could be very, very exciting but he’s no bet at 6/4.
ANY CURRENCY is a horse that will be getting some of my money in the Cross Country at 2.50.
The gutsy 12-year-old has finished second in similar races at the Cheltenham Festival twice and seems to relish the unique nature of the track.
He looked the most likely winner at the last in March but just got mowed down by the fast finishing Rivage D’Or.
I think he can turn that form around here – the 8/1 looks more than fair.
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