Paul Ferguson has one selection for us on Saturday; Gullinbursti in the Cheltenham 12.40. Compare odds and bet.
All being well Cheltenham is set to stage a wonderful card for Trials Day on Saturday and, though Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth is a notable absentee, it should prove a most informative day.
The Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase is always a well-contested event and this year’s renewal looks no different. Top weight Rajdhani Express was hugely impressive at Kempton Boxing Day, while Johns Spirit travelled really well behind Katenko (Gold Cup entry who runs in the valuable handicap today) at Sandown last time.
That pair are greatly respected, but they are taken on with Gullinbursti (12:40) who looks worth backing each-way on his handicap debut off an opening mark of 136.
Emma Lavelle’s seven-year-old was a smart novice hurdler last season, finishing runner-up to Rocky Creek in the River Don and also shaping really well in a competitive handicap at Newbury.
He was again just behind Rocky Creek when jumping nicely on his chase debut at Exeter in October and the form of that race is really strong, with the winner Harry Topper winning a Grade 2 at Newbury next time and Rocky Creek has won both starts since.
The selection then ran too bad to be true at Haydock (ground was really bad that day) before bouncing back to finish runner-up to Hawkes Point back at Exeter on New Years Day.
He again moved stylishly through the contest and gave the impression he could improve for either dropping back in trip slightly, or meeting better ground. He does both today and, over this trip, it is hoped that they make plenty of use of him from the front.
If he gets in to the rhythm that he has done on both starts at Exeter, he could take a bit of pegging back. He opened up at 8/1 with Bet365 last night and that is worth taking, but as it looks a strong event I suggest backing him each-way.
Elsewhere on the card, the opening juvenile hurdle looks a match between Kempton winner Irish Saint and Rolling Star who looked smart on his sole start in France.
His stable-mate Oscar Whisky will go off a warm order for the Cleeve Hurdle but, while I am a huge fan of the horse (as regular readers will know), he needs to prove his ability to last home over 3m before I would back him again at the trip. Reve De Sivola will ensure this is a true test, too.
The Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle looks a cracker, with ante-post Festival favourites The New One and Coneygree laying their unbeaten hurdles records on the line against At Fishers Cross and Whisper. This should be a cracker.
12:40 Cheltenham Gullinbursti
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)