Cheltenham’s star studded Open meeting gets underway today and there are two cracking novice contests on the cards.
Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase
Both favourites for those races look vulnerable to us, although we would love to see the returning More Of That bounce back to form in the Novices’ Chase at 1.40.
This trip may be on the short side for the former World Hurdle winner and he may also need the run, so he is worth taking on with AS DE MEE for a Paul Nicholls yard that looks set to have a successful three days. His recent run should have put him spot on for this and his handler expects him to shine over fences.
|As De Mee (win)||1.40 Cheltenham||7/2||Bet365|
Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
Only four go to post in the Neptune Investment Hurdle, but all four could easily be back here for the Festival in March.
Penglai Pavilion has arguably the best form of any novice hurdler seen out so far this season, but this flat bred gelding could have it all to do today against more stoutly bred rivals.
Any of those three could beat him, but ALCALA looks overpriced as a breathing operation seems to have brought about plenty of improvement judged by his re-appearance win at Worcester.
|Alcala (win)||2.15 Cheltenham||10/1||Bet365|
Paddy Power Handicap Chase
In the opener over two miles, it might be worth backing the potentially thrown in LE VATICANE to cover bets on two outsiders. The longshots in question are KEEL HAUL and KEY TO THE WEST. Both would like a drop of rain, but the former is from an in-form yard and a recent run should have put him spot on for this, whilst the latter looks to be close to re-discovering his best form for a new yard.
Minella Present looks the danger.
|La Vaticane (win)||1.05 Cheltenham||7/2||Bet365, BetVictor|
|Keel Haul (ew)||1.05 Cheltenham||25/1||Bet365|
|Key To The West (ew)||1.05 Cheltenham||25/1||Bet365|
Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
The cross country contests here can throw up some strange results and so despite being out of the handicap and running over fences for the first time for a while, it might be worth having a few quid on rank outsider, KINGSMERE. He was a useful novice chaser at his best and has been running respectably in staying hurdles recently. All bookmakers are paying 4 places for each-way bets on this race.
BLESS THE WINGS is the other to back as he has looked one paced in so many of his recent races this marathon trip should surely suit. He won’t mind it if the rain misses Prestbury Park either and the ground stays on the lively side.
|Kingsmere (ew)||2.50 Cheltenham||40/1||Bet365|
|Bless The Wings (ew)||2.50 Cheltenham||16/1||Bet365|
Opus Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Ben Pauling is really starting to make a name for himself as a trainer and he has excelled with horses like A HARE BREATH, who looks to have a massive chance in the 3.25 despite his long absence.
|A Hare Breath (ew)||3.25 Cheltenham||11/2||Paddy Power|
Cheltenham Club Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
In the closing amateur riders handicap chase we are hoping either RETURN SPRING or SUPER DUTY can bounce back to form. Both look well handicapped and have run well here in the past.
|Return Spring (ew)||4.00 Cheltenham||8/1||Paddy Power|
|Super Duty (ew)||4.00 Cheltenham||9/1||Paddy Power|