It really doesn’t get better than from a racing fan’s perspective.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup will grab the headlines on a simply stunning day of racing but all other six races on the card have intriguing elements to them with Channel 4 promising to broadcast four of the enthralling encounters.
So, in which direction should your money be going?
1:15 Roy Blandford 65 Years At Cheltenham Novices Chase (3m)
Although not being covered by Channel 4, this novice’s chase is well worth a watch as it’s sure to reveal some clues about the state of the novice staying chase division. The one that we’re excited about following this year in this department is Emma Lavelle’s imposing young chaser LE BEC, who looked a bit of a tool on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter in October.
Having caught our eye in the paddock at the festival last year when finishing sixth behind At Fishers Cross in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, the way he took to chasing in his seven length demolition job on the talented Bear’s Affair was hugely eye catching. Get on him here.
1:50 Murphy Group Handicap Chase (3m3f)
You need to find a horse who stays longer than Mo Farah for this event and this year’s renewal has pulled together a class bunch. Purely on a handicapping basis, our faith is very much with OUR MICK, who has run so many good races at Cheltenham without getting his head in front. This looks his chance to shine.
He looked a bit of a non-stayer when finishing tailed off in the Scottish Grand National, but dropped back in distance and on a winnable mark, he’s the one to concentrate on in what is a tasty renewal.
2:30 Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase (2m4f)
A super race and a brilliant line up for the feature. Dynaste will be very popular with the casual punter as he looks the obvious handicap good thing, but we’re not overly convinced by his credentials at Cheltenham and are staying well clear of him.
There’s plenty of options and form lines to assess with Salut Flo from the Pipe yard also very interesting as is Rajdhani Express in Nicky Henderson’s corner.
However, the horse we like (as long as he squeaks in at the bottom of the weights is JOHN’S SPIRIT, who won the key trial for this race over course and distance in the middle of October.
Although the recent record of horses from that race to this event isn’t overly encouraging (43F2853 – 12 years since a winner went on to win the Paddy Power) the way in which the selection jumped and subsequently sauntered clear suggests that he could still be well ahead of the assessor.
3:35 Neptune Investment Management Novices´ Hurdle (2m5f)
It could turn out to be a good day for the O’Neill stable if OSCAR FORTUNE delivers the goods late in the day.
Although he hasn’t looked two flashy in his two novice wins so far this term, the fact he has two wins to his name makes him a horse to be respected in this event. O’Neill thinks he’s a three mile stayer in the making and with the ground likely to be very testing at Prestbury Park he’ll relish conditions.
The fact he’s also a five-year-old should bode well too, as horses of that generation have won the last seven renewals.
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