Monday, 27 February 2017

Four Selections for the Cheltenham Festival Handicaps

Tuesday 14th March -  Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50)

One horse who caught the eye on Trials Day at Cheltenham in January was Singlefarmpayment who was travelling ominously well before being brought down at the twelfth fence. There was still a fair way to go thereafter but judging by the way he was travelling and jumping that day it would have been a surprise if he wasn’t involved in the finish. The form of his win over fences the time before at Cheltenham is strong with the runner-up going close in a competitive handicap next time out and the third has won two races over fences since, the most recent off a mark of 141. The selection was two from two at the course before that run so clearly likes the track; the trip will be ideal for him and is versatile ground wise. He does hold a couple of other entries but this race looks tailor made for him in my opinion and is sure to go off shorter than 14-1.

Selection: Singlefarmpayment (Best price - 14-1)

Wednesday 15th March - Coral Cup (2.50)

Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls won this race in 2015 with Aux Ptit Soins and looks to have a great chance of winning the race again this year with Modus who clearly improved for the step up in trip last time out when winning the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton. Those in behind that day have franked the form since with the third and fifth both winning strong handicaps next time out. That was his first run over 2m5f having previously posted a couple of decent efforts in competitive handicaps over 2 miles earlier in the season.  A horse with plenty of class and solid form in similar handicaps, there should be more improvement left in him at this trip. He also holds an entry in the County Hurdle but the Coral Cup trip looks ideal for him.

Selection: Modus (Best price - 12-1)

Thursday 16th March -  Pertemps Network Final (2.10)

Last year’s winning connections of this race look to have a great chance of landing back to back wins with Presenting Percy. A winner at Fairyhouse on his latest start, he seemed to benefit from a Tongue-tie being applied for the first time, travelling well throughout the race and winning with plenty to spare. That was over 2m4f but should have no problem stepping back up to 2m7f. Although he must prove he handles Cheltenham, this race is likely to have been the target for some time and he’s relatively lightly raced for a six-year-old so there should be plenty more to come. The likelihood of a strong pace in the race will also suit his hold-up tactics.

Selection: Presenting Percy (Best Price - 7-1)

Friday 17th March - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (4.50)

Gordon Elliot has been vocal about the chances of The Storyteller over the past few weeks and he looks a horse who has been laid out for this race. He’s improved in each of his runs over hurdles thus far and has been given a mark of 138 which looks fair based on his form as a novice. His latest win at Thurles in January was a career best where he stayed on strongly to comfortably beat some useful rivals, most notably Battleford who has since finished second in a Grade 3. Although he holds entries in various other races, Elliot has nominated this race as his intended target and looks sure to go close with the likelihood of more to come from a horse on the upgrade.

Selection: The Storyteller (Best Price - 8-1)

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