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Timeform Shortlist: Cheltenham, Friday March 17

It's Gold Cup day at Cheltenham on Friday
It's Gold Cup day at Cheltenham on Friday
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1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (1) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated:
170p 5. DEFI DU SEUIL Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
169p 2. CHARLI PARCS Nicky Henderson Noel Fehily
166 12. MEGA FORTUNE Gordon Elliott Davy Russell

Analyst's Verdict:
Defi du Seuil not only sets the standard on form but also looks open to further progress and has won twice over C&D, so he promises to be difficult to beat. Mega Fortune reacted well to cheekpieces when seeing off Bapaume to win a Leopardstown Grade 1 last month and may prove next best ahead of Alan King's impressive Adonis scorer Master Blueyes.


2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (1) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated:
172§ 4. RENNETI W. P. Mullins R. Walsh
171 7. COURT MINSTREL Evan Williams Adam Wedge
170+ 12. WINTER ESCAPE Alan King Wayne Hutchinson

Analyst's Verdict:
Winter Escape could be the one. Unbeaten as a juvenile, including a Grade 2 success, he was sent off favourite for the Greatwood here on his reappearance only to run as if amiss. He remains with plenty of potential if all is well and looks to have the ideal credentials for a race like this. The shortlist is anything but, but high on it comes Diego du Charmil, Wait For Me and Mohaayed among others.


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Spa) (Grade 1) (1) 2m7f213y

Timeform Top Rated:
167p 6. DEATH DUTY Gordon Elliott B. J. Cooper
166p 14. WHOLESTONE Nigel Twiston-Davies Daryl Jacob
162p 11. THE WORLDS END Tom George A. P. Heskin

Analyst's Verdict:
Wholestone has been a real success story over hurdles this term, and progressed again when successful over shorter here in January. His attitude looks a particularly admirable attribute and he gets the narrow vote back up in trip. Death Duty is 4 from 4 in this sphere and rates the chief threat ahead of Augusta Kate, whilst Penhill is another who could offer some each-way value.


3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (1) 3¼m70y

Timeform Top Rated:
188 3. CUE CARD Colin Tizzard Paddy Brennan
185 4. DJAKADAM W. P. Mullins R. Walsh
181p 9. NATIVE RIVER Colin Tizzard Richard Johnson

Analyst's Verdict:
Colin Tizzard holds a very strong hand courtesy of Cue Card and Native River, with the former taken to cap a remarkable career by landing a third win at this meeting and tenth Grade 1 success in all. Djakadam has been runner-up in this for the last 2 years, while Minella Rocco is the least exposed and could go well if holding it together in the jumping department.


4.10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (2) 3¼m70y

Timeform Top Rated:
150 24. WONDERFUL CHARM Paul Nicholls Ms K. Walsh
146 16. ON THE FRINGE Enda Bolger Mr J. J. Codd
145 18. PAINT THE CLOUDS Warren Greatrex Mr Barry O'Neill

Analyst's Verdict:
It's hardly surprising Wonderful Charm has proved a class apart switched to the hunter ranks this season, given he was a very smart chaser in his pomp, and he should really put it up to On The Fringe, who is bidding to become the first 3-time winner of this race. Paint The Clouds has finished third in the last 2 renewals and again represents solid each-way value.


4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (2) 2½m56y

Timeform Top Rated:
162p 14. NO COMMENT Philip Hobbs Ciaran Gethings
161 22. BATTLEFORD W. P. Mullins A. W. Short (5)
160 20. PROTEK DES FLOS Nicky Henderson Jack Savage (5)

Analyst's Verdict:
Big-field bumper winner No Comment has created a taking impression in novice hurdles, the form of his latest Plumpton success particularly strong, and with this scenario set to suit, he could well be the answer. Battleford and Rather Be possess scope based on their bumper form and are just a couple of possible dangers.


5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (1) 2m62y

Timeform Top Rated:
167 6. LE PREZIEN Paul Nicholls Sam Twiston-Davies
166 3. THE GAME CHANGER Gordon Elliott B. J. Cooper
166 9. VELVET MAKER Alan Fleming Denis O'Regan

Analyst's Verdict:
A typically tricky finale but course Grade 2 novice chase winner Le Prezien could be well-in off an opening mark in the 140s and can provide Paul Nicholls with a second successive winner in this race. Last year's second/third Dandridge and Rock The World merit plenty of respect, while Velvet Maker was better than the result in this 12 months ago and made a promising return over hurdles recently.


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