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CHAPS Restaurants Novices’ Handicap Chase tips – no doubting Thomas

There has been plenty of money for Thomas Crapper in the last few days

Thomas Crapper (left) loves Cheltenham.

A bet on Thomas Crapper might not go down the pan

CHAPS Restaurants Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m4f110y, Old Course (due off 5.15pm)

Who’s favourite?
A course and distance win on Trials Day here in January made Generous Ransom an automatic favourite when ante post betting opened, and he’s still holding on to that position. At first glance, an 8lb rise for a neck win looks harsh but the way he idled on the run-in suggests suggests he was hardly flattered by the winning margin, and it was striking the way he travelled through the race. His jumping did leave something to be desired and he won’t get away with too many mistakes here, but he has the drying ground in his favour and Daryl Jacob gets a good tune out of him. His trainer Nick Gifford is still looking for his first festival winner. Top price: 9/1 Betway

Who else is fancied?
There has been plenty of money for Thomas Crapper in the last few days and he’s challenging for favouritism with some firms. But will his backers be left feeling flush? He certainly ticks plenty of boxes as he races off the same mark as when second to Don Poli in the Martin Pipe over hurdles at last year’s festival, and the way he has been campaigned this season suggests he’s been laid out for this.

Best over this sort of trip, he’s been running over shorter mainly and with credit, including finishing second to a couple of smart sorts in Vibrato Valtat and Three Kingdoms. His form figures at the track now read 3118203, so he looks sure to be thereabouts again. Little Jon has had some mishaps over fences this term, including when running out at the December meeting here. However, he was a solid fourth to some seasoned handicappers over course and distance last time, and his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has nominated him as one of his best chances of the week.

Any decent outsiders?

It’s 14/1 or bigger the rest and the majority hold chances. Like Thomas Crapper, Killala Quay has yet to win over fences but that isn’t necessarily a negative as Finger Onthe Pulse overcame that when winning this race in 2008, and his lack of success also helps to keep his mark down to 140, meaning he just qualifies. Fourth in last season’s Neptune Novices’ won by Faugheen, it would be no surprise to see him run a big race. Knock House was further down the field in that race but has looked an improved performer over fences this term.

Bold Henry who won a 2m handicap chase at the track in November giving the impression he would be even better over further, However, he may be switched to Friday’s Grand Annual, where he’d also be of interest. Paul Nicholls Keltus and Nicky Henderson’s Cocktails At Dawn also deserve a mention.

Trainer quote: “He’s always been a long-term project; he’s always been backwards – mentally more than anything. He’s not flashy at all and I’ve a a half dozen who work better than him so he’s surprised us a bit, but they’re the ones you like because you don’t know how good they might be.” – Nick Gifford on Generous Ransom.

Best bookie offer
Get 3 free bets, each to the value of your stake (maximum £25, x3 per customer), when you back a winner at 3/1 or more on any race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival with Betfair.

Verdict
An absolute minefield for punters but it’s hard to ignore the claims of Generous Ransom and THOMAS CRAPPER, with the latter just preferred.

Selection – Thomas Crapper @ 10/1 Ladbrokes

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