The Open - Saturday Race Tips
You can read our full preview of today’s Paddy Power Gold Cup here, but there are plenty of other good contests for punters to get stuck into at Cheltenham this afternoon and in the long term the most informative event may prove to be the Novices’ Chase at 1.15pm.
Roy Blandford 65 Years At Cheltenham Novices Chase
The race sees the return of a horse that seems to appear in virtually every horses to follow book on the market, African Gold, and it is easy to see why he is being so highly touted. He had a fine season over hurdles last year, but is every inch the chaser and could go right to the very top over the larger obstacles.
However, it is possible to make a case for all of today’s runners, even rank outsider Bob Ford who will be much happier over this longer trip. In fact, it was tempting to recommend him each-way, but with only seven runners it may be asking a bit much of him to finish in the first two, so preference is for Shutthefrontdoor who seems to be held in the highest regard at Jackdaws Castle.
He too will relish the return to 3 miles and it is hoped that he will be able to put his little bit of experience over fences to good use today.
|Shutthefrontdoor (win)||1.15 Cheltenham||5/2
||Betfred & Ladbrokes
JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
Before that race, for those wanting to get off to a flyer, we think Royal Irish Hussar may be worth taking on in the opener. He was certainly much more impressive last time out than he was on his debut over hurdles, and today’s stiffer track will play to his strengths, but he may be a bit quirky and Nicky Henderson’s yard has yet to hit top gear.
This is a much tougher race, so any chinks will be exposed, and the one we like is Guitar Pete who will love the underfoot conditions and has been a revelation since switching codes to the winter game.
|Guitar Pete (ew)||12.40 Cheltenham||8/1||Bet365
Murphy Group Handicap Chase
There's another staying chase at 1.50pm and it’s a cracking contest with last year’s winners of the Betfred Gold Cup, Welsh National and Scottish National all going to post. All three have, unsurprisingly, suffered hikes in the weights after those wins and so it may pay to focus on the horses at the foot of the handicap.
Fergal O’Brien’s yard is in flying form right now and it isn’t easy to pick between his pair of Bradley and Alvarado.
The latter has been crying out for today’s marathon trip and, after his form tailed off last season, he put up an encouraging effort on his return at Chepstow last month. However, Bradley is probably a safer proposition as he loves it around here.
He also ran well on his seasonal debut, finishing fifth behind Balthazar’s King, and he was doing all of his best work at the death that day. All in all, it would be a major disappointment were he not to make the frame at least.
The same is true of Tour Des Champ who was second in that same contest. He would probably have liked a bit more juice in the ground, but he will relish the extra 3f today and Nigel Twiston-Davis is a man to be feared at this meeting.
|Bradley (ew)||1.50 Cheltenham
|Tour Des Champ (ew)||1.50 Cheltenham||8/1||Bet365
The feature event at 2.30pm is followed by another ultra-competitive heat, a Listed Hurdle over 3m 1½f.
Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle
David Pipe and Paul Nicholls each have two runners in the race and all four are at or near the head of the market. Southfield Theatre looks the pick of them on form, but he isn’t a great price so we are going to suggest a small each way interest in Recession Proof in the hope that he is back to the form he showed in 2010-11 when he was one of the best novices about.
He hasn’t run since finishing fifth in that season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he has had a couple of pipe openers on the level and he could be thrown in at the weights if he is suited by this trip.
Sunnyhillboy also looks thrown in based on his best form over fences, but the other one to have a few pounds on is Return Spring at the bottom of the weights. He is really well bred for this game and may improve significantly with a summer on his back having come over from Ireland early last season. He did, though, show enough on his few starts for Philip Hobbs to suggest there is a decent race in him and he is lightly raced enough to improve significantly this campaign.
|Recession Proof (ew)
|Return Spring (ew)||3.00 Cheltenham||25/1