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2016 Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Tips – best bets for the Tuesday action at Prestbury Park

There are seven exciting races on Champions Day

Cheltenham

What are the best bets on Champions Day at the Cheltenham Festival?

Our racing expert has run the rule over the seven races that comprise Champion Day on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.

13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m1/2f Old Course

Last year’s 1-2-3: Douvan (2/1 f), Shaneshill, Sizing John – 12 ran.

Who’s favourite?
Barring an injury (God forbid!), the Willie Mullins-trained Min will carry the hopes and not inconsiderable weight of money laid down by ante post punters some of which was placed before the ex-French five-year-old even set a foot on the racecourse – or so the bookies would have us believe. Yes, the dogs have been barking this horse’s name for a good while and it’s a case of so far good after a couple of bloodless victories, both at Punchestown. Clearly, he has an engine, can jump and scarily for his rivals he’s expected to improve for better ground. The first of Mullins battalions to go to war, he’ll be the first leg of many an acca bet and bookmakers will be desperate to get him beat. Top price: 7/4 Betfair.

Who else is fancied?
Their best hopes appear to lie with the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Altior and Buveur D’Air, who have rattled up six victories over hurdles between them this winter and get 4/1 and 7/1 quotes respectively from bet365. The former has earned himself a bigger reputation at this stage after impressively completing a four-timer in an Ascot Grade 2 last time and he also has that all-important Cheltenham form in the book, having won there at the Paddy Power meeting. However, if you’re thinking of backing either an each-way investment is advised as the stable simply can’t saddle a Supreme winner for toffee these days, with Henderson’s losing streak going back to Flown in 1992. Now that’s many years of frustration and there have been plenty of near misses with some star names who arrived with even loftier reputations than Altior.

And the rest?
Mullins could be mob-handed with the likes of Yorkhill, Bleu Et Rouge and Long Dog waiting in the wings, though most have alternative engagements and it’s hard to be dogmatic over who is going to turn up at this stage. Gordon Elliott has said that Tombstone will go for the Supreme and, having been second twice at Grade 1 level this season, he has each-way possibilities. And so has Henry de Bromhead’s Supasundae, who finished sixth in last season’s Champion Bumper (led until just over 1f out) and slammed Silver Concorde by 13 lengths at Leopardstown in December. Moon Racer, the winner of the Champion Bumper, could yet make the gig but it’s a big ask of him to win this on his hurdles debut.

Trainer quote: I don’t think he’s as good as [last year’s winner] Douvan, and it’s hard to think he might be as good as [the 2014 winner] Vautour, though I hope he is. He looks very decent, but until after Cheltenham we won’t know. He’s a lovely horse at home, and fine in the parade ring, but he seems to take a really good grip when they start to race. I’d imagine that there will be a lot more pace at Cheltenham than his last race, so hopefully he will just blend in. I don’t think it will be a problem.”

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on horses that finish second in any race at the Festival as a free bet up to £25. That’s decent but they’ve been trumped by Sky Bet, at least for this particular race, as they are refunding stakes (again as a free bet up to £25) on ALL losing bets in the festival opener. The majority of firms are going NRNB (non-runner no-bet) and a couple – bet365 and Sky Bet – are Best Odds Guaranteed.

What’s the verdict?
But I’m inclined to take him in any case as he’s priced up on potential rather than substance and Mullins’ comments suggest he might get lit up beforehand and then fail to settle.. Besides, the Sky Bet offer means we can bet against him knowing we will get our money back as a free bet. The temptation is to side with one of the Henderson runners and given he’s struggling to split them at home, it is logical to go with Buveur D’Air, who is nearly double the price of his stablemate.

However, I’m going to take a punt on SUPERSUNDAE at even bigger odds. A smart performer, who let’s not forget beat Yanworth (odds-on for the Neptune) at Ascot on his second start in that sphere, he has not looked a natural in two runs over hurdles so far but warmed to his task last time (quite slick over the final mile) and is the type who will appreciate better ground and a stronger pace. His jockey Johnny Burke is sounding quite bullish on his chances.

Recommendation: Supasundae each-way @ 16/1 Sky Bet NRNB & money back if he loses (win part)

14:10 The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase, 2m

Last year’s 1-2-3: Un De Sceaux (4/6f), God’s Own, Josses Hill – 11 ran.

Who’s favourite?
If the current betting can be believed, Douvan has only got to jump round to collect with the rest are running for place money. Willie Mullins’ charge has pretty much been favourite since he crossed the line in last season’s Supreme Novices’ (landing some hefty bets in the process) as he struck many as a chaser in the making and, having gone unbeaten in three starts over the bigger obstacles this term, running his rivals ragged and jumping with real precision on each occasion, he’s done nothing to disprove that. The Arkle is his to lose. Top price: 2/5 Paddy Power.

Who else is fancied?
Well, the Nicky Henderson-trained Vaniteux is the only other horse quoted at a single-figure price – 6/1 best with Paddy Power currently – and he seems certain to run after beating Arzal (no mug himself) in his prep at Doncaster at the end of January. He lacks the class of the favourite and his jumping left a bit to be desired last time but he ran out a convincing winner nonetheless and hailing from a yard that has won this contest twice in the last four years, he is sure to have done plenty of work at Seven Barrows in preparation. Good ground is important to him, though, and it’s hard to imagine the ground being any faster than ‘good to soft’ on the Tuesday.

And the rest?
It’s 16/1 bar Vaniteux and that takes in his stablemate L’Ami Serge, who ran too bad to be true in his prep at Warwick when long odds-on, and Henry De Bromhead’s Sizing John, who has been unfortunate to run into Douvan three times already in his short career, including over fences at Leopardstown in December when 18 lengths adrift.

Philip Hobbs’ Garde La Victoire is 3-3 over fences (including a race here at the Paddy Power meeting) and could take his chance here if the ground is suitable – he’ll be rerouted to longer JLT if it were to come up soft. Gordon Elliott’s The Game Changer is another who will appreciate better ground and, indeed, his participation hinges on it. He’s not been seen since landing a hat-trick of chase wins at Grade 3 level at Punchestown in October but won’t lack for fitness. Ruby Walsh has described his fencing as ‘deadly’.

If there is a dark one in the field it is Henry de Bromhead’s Alisier d’Irlande, an impressive winner of his last two chases and expected to improve for ‘nicer ground’. His owner Roger Brookhouse won this contest a couple of years ago with outsider Western Warhorse (33/1).

Jockey quote: “He’s a bit flat over his fences and doesn’t arch his back. Master Minded used to do that, too – flat but effective over his fences. Not arching his back means he’s fast away and that’s a huge plus for a two-miler chaser.” – Ruby Walsh after Douvan’s Leopardstown win in January.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on horses that finish second in all the Cheltenham Festival races as a free bet up to £25. A couple of firms – bet365 and Sky Bet -are NRNB (non-runner no-bet) and Best Odds Guaranteed.

Who to back at this stage?
We are often told never to be afraid of one horse but what if that horse is Douvan? Providing he jumps round,it is extremely difficult to envisage anything getting near him and, consequently, the only way to approach the race from a betting perspective is to find one at an each-way price who might make the frame or dabble in the ‘w/o Douvan’ market. I put up THE GAME CHANGER ante post at 20/1 a couple of weeks back for the reasons given here and I’m encouraged to stick with him by a favourable weather forecast (goods to soft would be okay for him). Any worries over his participation are taken care of by the NRNB proviso. Should he not line up, I’d have no hesitation in switching to Garde La Victoire as he’s a consistent sort who has a fine record at the track (won three and a close second in five starts).

Recommendation: The Game Changer w/o Douvan @ 7/1 bet365 NRNB

14:50 The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase, 3m1f

Last year’s 1-2-3-4: The Druid’s Nephew (8/1), Grand Jesture, Gallant Oscar, Indian Castle – 24 ran.

Who’s favourite?
Favourites have a dire record in this race with just two – Antonin in 1994 and Wichita Lineman in 2009 – obliging in the past 30 years, so that doesn’t bode well for the Warren Greatex-trained Out Sam, assuming he does go off favourite – shading it currently at around 7/1. But the stats aside, he looks to have a fine chance as he’s an improving youngster on a potentially generous mark of 139 and has been trained for the race. What’s not to like? Top price: 15/2 BetVictor.

Who else is fancied?
Holywell has been the horse for money in the last 24 hours and Jonjo O’Neill’s charge has got himself well treated again, having lost the plot in three starts this season. He won this race in 2014 off 145 and 12 months later ran fourth to Coneygree in the Gold Cup, so his latest mark of 153 seems very fair. However, his backers are banking on him coming back to form once again in the spring and that’s far from a given and even his trainer has described him as a “monkey” who has own ideas about the game these days. He’s not for me.

O’Neill looks to have a solid second-string in Beg To Differ, who has improved gradually over fences this season and looked better than ever when winning at Sandown last month. Aidan Coleman rides. Kruzhlinin is also worth considering as he looked much improved on his first start for Philip Hobbs at Kempton in January. His main target is the Grand National, for which his stamina is unproven, but he should have no problem staying this trip.

Neil Mulholland is another trainer with two strings to his bow and it’s hard to split his Carole’s Destrier and The Young Master, both of whom have shown they have what it takes to land this, although there are better handicapped horses in the race.

And the rest?
There is plenty of possibles further down the betting list and with winners at 50/1, 33/1 and 28/1 in the last decade, it’s clear you shouldn’t let a big price put you off. Irish raider Morning Assembly is a ‘skinny’ 14/1 and the 2014 RSA third, who has returned with two decent runs in Ireland over inadequate trips, could be a real force. Others in with a shout are Theatre Guide, who looked better than ever when winning the Betbright Chase at Kempton, albeit off an 11lb lower mark, and Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre.

Of those at bigger prices, Katenko makes some each-way appeal as he was considered good enough to run in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup and, having largely disappointed since and missed a large chunk of last season, he now finds himself on a potentially lenient mark of 147, which is 8lb lower than his last winning one. You can ignore his pulled up effort on his reappearance at Ascot in December as he was travelling strongly when making a bad blunder as the race was hotting up, forcing his rider to pull him up.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on the second horse home as a free bet up to £25, while Boylesports are refunding stakes in the same way if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

Trainer quote: “I think he’d be competitive in the RSA, but he’s got a mark of 139 after his Newbury win so I’d be silly not to look at handicaps. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet – better ground will see him at his best.” – Warren Greatrex on Out Sam.

What’s the verdict?
I’ve got the utmost respect for OUT SAM and I’m not going to let the record of favourites out me off having a saver on him at very least. However, I can’t resist a few quid each-way on the veteran KATNEKO for the reasons given at silly odds. I’m also encouraged by his trainer’s habit of springing shocks in festival handicaps, with three of her six winners were sent off at 33/1 or bigger.

SELECTIONS: Out Sam @ 15/2 William Hill / Katenko each-way @ 50/1 BetVictor (¼ odds, 1.2.3.4.5)

15:30 The Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, 2m1/2f

Last year’s 1-2-3: Faugheen (4/5f), Arctic Fire, Hurricane Fly – 8 ran.

Who’s favourite?
Bookmakers dodged a massive bullet in terms of multiple liabilities with the news that last year’s winner Faugheen (as short as 1/3) would not be able to defend his crown due to injury, and that has effectively blown the race wide open. His stablemate Annie Power was quickly promoted to favouritism and it’s easy to see why as this doesn’t look a particularly strong renewal and, having been off the track since crumpling at the last in last year’s Mares’ Hurdle (surely would have won), she showed her current well-being when beating two rivals at Punchestown last month. She will have to be supplemented, though, and won’t be carrying the same weight of expectation as Faugheen – she’s a stone lower than him on the ratings and has something to prove dropping back in trip. Nonetheless, she’ll be cynosure of all eyes on the day with many punters undoubtedly combining her in thousands of multiples with other Mullins-trained horses expected to win at the festival. Top price: 2/1 Paddy Power NRNB.

Who else is fancied?
The fact Annie Power is favourite at around 2/1 tells you the rest are no world-beaters and if you ran the race ten times you might get ten different winners. With last year’s runner-up Arctic Fire also sidelined through injury, it’s another Mullins inmate, Nichols Canyon, who is disputing second favouritism with Henry de Bromhead’s Fighting Fifth winner Identity Thief at around the 11/2 mark. The pair clashed at Leopardstown in December (heavy) and Nichols Canyon proved two lengths too good on that occasion, taking his tally of Grade 1s to six in the process. Third in last season’s Neptune, he’ll be hard to kick out of the frame but that Leopardstown form could be turned on its head by the runner-up on better ground and with Bryan Cooper likely to ride a more patient race. At the age of six and with just seven starts over hurdles under his belt, there is surely better to come from him.

And the rest?
Nicky Henderson has won the race five times and he could five runners, headed by the 2014 runner-up My Tent Or Yours. The nine-year-old hasn’t raced for nearly two years and dodged his prep due to heavy ground, but he is reportedly working well at home and has never finished outside the first two in four Grade 1s. His stablemate Top Notch won his penalty kick prep at Kelso in good style and won’t be disgraced, but the remaining members of the stable quintet – Peace And Co, Hargam and Sign Of A Victory – are harder to fancy.

The New One runs his best races at Cheltenham and was arguably an unlucky third in the 2014 renewal having been badly hampered by the fatal fall of Our Conor. No match for Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle, he has looked laboured in winning his other two starts this term and needs a career-best effort. That hasn’t stopped the each-way thieves snapping up double figure odds and he’s a skinny-looking 6/1 now. Relkeel Hurdle winner (2m4f heavy) Camping Ground would come into the equation if the heavens opened.

Trainer quote: “I don’t think the trip will be any problem. There are at least six horses here that if they were in another yard could be in the Champion Hurdle, and she’d be as fast as any of those. I think it could be easier to ride her over two miles, with the sort of pace they will be going. It’s lovely when you have mares’ races to aim for with nice prize money, but her ratings suggest she’s well able to take the geldings on.” – Willie Mullins on Annie Power.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on horses that finish second in all the Cheltenham Festival races as a free bet up to £25. All firms are going NRNB and a couple – bet365 and Sky Bet – are also Best Odds Guaranteed.

What’s the verdict?

I’m excited over the prospect of Annie Power taking on male horses and must admit to snapping up a little of the 3/1 (NRNB) when she was first made favourite. However, after several sleeps I’m less keen on her chances as she’s yet to face a task like this in terms of pace and quality of opposition – she’s not slow by any means but connections were considering the World Hurdle (3m) back in February and, indeed, she chased home More Of That in the 2014 renewal of that race. She might even drift on the day but, if you’re not already on, the advice is don’t be tempted and back IDENTITY THIEF instead. I’m convinced he will reverse form with Nichols Canyon on better ground and unlike the favourite he looks a genuine two-miler who jumps great into the bargain. He may well prove good enough with no standout performer, though I wouldn’t rule out a big run from My Tent Or Yours – the market on the day could prove the best guide to his chances.

SELECTION: Identity Thief @ 11/2 Paddy Power NRNB

16:10 The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race, 2m4f

Last year’s 1-2-3: Glens Melody (6/1), Polly Peachum, Bitofapuzzle – 15 ran.

Who’s favourite?
With Annie Power (ante post favourite for this) almost certain to be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle, the mantle of favouritism falls on her stablemate Vroum Vroum Mag, though she too has other option at at the festival (Ryanair, World Hurdle). Still, it would be a major surprise if she weren’t to line up as she’s an odds-on chance with bookmakers and Grade 1s don’t grow on trees. Unbeaten in eight starts in Britain and Ireland – six chases and two hurdles – she’s undoubtedly got a touch of class and is a worthy market leader. The slight concern with her is that she jumps fences so well and such horses rarely make better hurdlers. Both her hurdle wins this term have come against inferior opposition and she’s now facing the best of her sex and doesn’t have that much in hand strictly on the ratings. Top price: 5/4 William Hill (11/10 Paddy Power NRNB).

Who else is fancied?
Last year’s runner-up Polly Peachum – the only other horse at a single-figure price – looks almost certain to run her race again having had a much better preparation. At last year’s meeting, she was having having her first start since being pulled up at Kempton in November and was very keen in the early stages, whereas this time round she arrives on the back of a win, that coming in a Listed event at Sandown in early January. This is likely to be her last race as she’s off to stud and connections will have left nothing to chance in terms of fitness, so it’s not hard to see her enhancing her career record at the track (form figures of 12) further.

And the rest?

Then a novice, Bitofapuzzle was looking booked for fourth last year and owed her third place to the last flight fall of Annie Power, but she might do better this year. An impressive winner of a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse last April, when value for far more than her winning margin of just over four lengths, she got her chasing career off to the perfect starts when hacking up at Exeter in December, only for the wheels to come off in two subsequent runs. She jumped poorly prior to falling at Thurles and capitulated tamely in the closing stages of a Grade 2 at Wetherby last time, eventually being pulled up. It would be no surprise then to see connections switch her back to hurdles for the rest of this season and if she runs anywhere at the festival it will be here, with better ground in her favour.

Several of these finished well behind Vroum Vroum Vroum Mag at Ascot last time (soft), with The Govaness faring best in fifth. Desert Queen, a stablemate of Bitofapuzzle, stopped quickly and weakened into seventh and Aurore D’Estruval finished a tailed off ninth. All three could conceivably finish a lot closer on better ground.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on horses that finish second in all the Cheltenham Festival races as a free bet up to £25, whilst most firms are going NRNB and a couple – bet365 and Sky Bet – are also Best Odds Guaranteed.

What’s the verdict?
Vroum Vroum Mag impressed when beating Jennies Jewel at Ascot last time but the runner-up hardly advertised the form next time and the third has since been beaten in handicaps. Still, she can only beat what’s put in front of her and will be many people’s idea of a banker bet. I’m not in that camp, though, and will point to her jumping technique – she has a tendency to balloon the odd hurdle – as one reason to take her on at what is a stingy price. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a total shock if POLLY PEACHUM were to beat her and Nicky Henderson’s consistent mare looks a cast-iron each-way bet with Paddy Power, who will refund the winning part of our bet (as a free bet) should she again hit the crossbar. Of those at bigger prices, I like Desert Queen (25/1 bet365 NRNB). She might have been feeling the effects of a couple of hard races when trailing home last time and the stable is in much better form now.

SELECTION: Polly Peachum each-way @ 6/1 Paddy Power NRNB & Money Back if 2nd

16:50 The 146th Year Of The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase), 4m

Last year’s 1-2-3: Cause Of Causes (8/1), Broadway Buffalo (12/1), The Job Is Right – 17 ran.

Who’s favourite?
Ante post punters have had a rough deal as first Black Hercules and then his stablemate Roi Des Francs have been rerouted to the shorter RSA, having been a single-figure price and near-favourite for this race. In their absence, Minella Rocco now finds himself at the head of the market and potential backers will be hoping the six-year-old can reproduce his showing in the Reynoldstown at Ascot over 3m last time, where he made up a stack of ground to close within a half-length of the winner Vyta Du Roc, looking every inch an out-and-out stayer. The form of that race does need treating with some caution, though, as the two market leaders took each other on early and fell in a hold late on. Still, he’s clearly got the talent and engine to win this and will have the assistance of Derek O’Connor – chief hit-man-for-hire in the amateur ranks – in the saddle. His trainer Jonjo O’Neill landed this contest five times between 1995 and 2007, so know;s what’s required. Top price: 5/1 bet365 NRNB.

Who else is fancied?
Running and riding plans are still very fluid at the time of writing (Friday before) so some guesswork is involved – the fact we won’t know the final field until 24 hours before is a joke in this day and age! Gordon Elliott’s Noble Endeavour seems certain to line up and he will prove popular after some solid efforts over fences this term, with his second in last season’s Martin Pipe seemingly another positive. However, the way he was run down on the run-in in that shorter race marks him out as a doubtful stayer.

Colin Tizzard’s Native River has looked a thorough stayer and that along with his flawlessly good jumping make him a big player, should he line up here instead of the RSA. Feltham Chase runner-up Southfield Royale is another sound jumper who should relish the step up in trip, though he does lack the experience of some of these and only one other six-year-old has triumphed in the last 10 runnings (eight were aged seven or eight).

And the rest?
You can make a case for several others – it’s that sort of race – but it may be worth remembering this has become a punter-friendly contest since some alterations to the conditions in 2010, with no winner going off bigger than 14/1 (Poker De Sivola that year) and three favourites (5/1 twice, 9/4) obliging. It’s now a glorified four-mile RSA Chance and, with the bigger yards having a bigger chance of producing the winner, the best horses will continue to come to the fore. In which case, the likes of Vicente, Paul Nicholls’ main representative, and the Willie Mullins quintet of Pont Alexandre, Sambremont, Measureofmydreams, Avant Tout and Shaneshill all need respecting.

Trainer quote: “He’s already won three novice chases, including one at Cheltenham, and the four-miler looks ideal for him. He doesn’t have the pace for the RSA but I think he’ll stay forever.” – Paul Nicholls on Vicente.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding bets on the second horse home as a free bet up to £25 and they are also offering place terms of a quarter the odds, while some shamefully stick to one fifth. It would be no surprise to one or more firms on the day offering four places instead of the standard three.

What’s the verdict?
Not such a lottery of a race any more but I’m still keen to take on the likely favourite Minella Rocco, who owes his position in the market to his connections and a single decent effort over fences, the form of which is dubious. Besides, there are plenty of solid alternatives and, with the big stables now to the fore, I’m going to take a punt on Paul Nicholls’ VICENTE as he looks the ideal sort – stays all day, Cheltenham form in the book – and has a decent amateur on his back to boot. You’ve got to love his current price of 20/1 too -will surely be half that on the day!

SELECTION: Vicente each-way @ 20/1 bet365 NRNB
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17:30 The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m41/2f

Last year’s 1-2-3-4: Irish Cavalier (11/1), Thomas Crapper, Generous Ransom, Horizontal Speed – 20 ran.

Who’s favourite?
The Warren Greatrex-trained Aloomomo has been very progressive this season, winning three handicap chases on the bounce, culminating in victory at the Newbury Hennessy meeting (2m61/2f, soft), and warmed up for this when running as well as could be expected over hurdles at Ascot. He’s 11lb higher now than for his last but he’s only six and may have some further improvement n him. Top price: 13/2 Paddy Power NRNB.

Who else is fancied?
Recent form is pretty much essential with nine of the last 10 winners managing a top-three finish last time, which narrows the field down a bit – the fancied Bouvreuil (fifth), McKinley (sixth) and Ballyalton (fell) all fail on that score, Willow’s Saviour scooted up at Fakenham last time and looks progressive, while Double Shuffle made a winning handicap debut at Ludlow last time and has some smart novice form to his name too. The fact he was was ‘easily outpaced’ over 2m4f when finishing second to Art Mauresque here earlier this season is a slight concern, though.

Emma Lavelle’s Javert has won two of his three chase starts this term, unseating his rider in between, and the form of his latest success at Doncaster in December (2m3f, soft) looks strong as the 12-length second Fairy Rath has won since. A strong-travelling sort who jumps well in the main, he is one of several likely to appreciate better ground.

And the rest?
Winners of this race have been prominent in the betting with nine sent off at odds between 9/2 and 12/1 (all were in the first six in the betting), so it might not be too wise to go too far down the betting list. Still, this is a handicap and a compressed one at that, and they all have a chance. One that might go well amongst those at 20/1 or bigger is Henry de Bromhead’s Domesday Book, who was last seen finishing third of three behind Douvan. He’s been freshened up for this since and should be suited by the step up in trip and better ground.

Trainer quote: “He is a big, strong, laid-back individual and a good traveller. You can lose your race in the paddock at any course and especially at Cheltenham, as it is such an amphitheatre. Horses with a good temperament are at an advantage, because there is a lot of noise and excitement, and we have no worries on that score. He has been in great order at home and I can’t wait for Tuesday. The ground should be near perfect and I’m expecting a big run.”

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on the second horse home as a free bet while Boylesports are refunding stakes in the same way if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

What’s the verdict?
I had my eye on a couple of progressive Irish-trained runners (Pairofbrowneyes in particular, make a note of him) near the foot of the weights but they didn’t make it in – it’s so hard to even get a run in these festival handicaps. So, I’m going back to my original ante post selection, the Emma Lavelle-trained JAVERT, for the reasons given. He’s not been seen since December but has been waiting for better ground and his trainer, who has not had the greatest of seasons, had a winner on Saturday. Sean Bowen, who has steered him to both his chase wins, is back on board.

SELECTION: Javert each-way @ 16/1 Boylesports NRNB & money back if 2nd

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