Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays: Wednesday March 16

Jaleo looks a good bet in one of the day's big handicaps
Jaleo looks a good bet in one of the day's big handicaps
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Timeform pick out their three best bets for Champion Chase day at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival...

"Jaleo very much caught the eye when tearing 11 lengths clear of the consistent Our Thomas at Catterick last time..."

Arbre de Vie - Cheltenham 14:50

Willie Mullins looks to have a strong hand in the Coral Cup - no real surprise! - courtesy of Arbre de Vie, Avant Tout, Blood Cotil and Blazer, and it's the first-named gelding who we fancy particularly. Arbre de View caught the eye when a staying-on fourth to Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett at last year's Festival, and he followed that run up by finishing a length second to Sort It Out in another big field (handicap) at Punchestown last May. While this race may not have been Arbre de Vie's big target at the start of the season - he was beaten at odds-on on his chasing debut/return at Thurles (made mistakes) in January - and Ruby Walsh appears to have deserted him in favour of Blood Cotil (another coming back from running over fences), he still looks a potential winner. Politologue, Rock The Kasbah and Baoulet Delaroque looks the best of the British.

Josies Orders - Cheltenham 16:10

This is the first time this Cross-Country Chase has been run as a non-handicap. That would not have been in Josies Orders' favour at the start of the season, but so progressive has he been since October that he's actually Timeform top rated for the race on the weight-adjusted figures. Josies Orders looked yet another top cross-country performer for his yard when winning twice over C&D before Christmas and, having had a tune-up for this race over hurdles last month, should take a bit of stopping under Nina Carberry (who's ridden him for his last three wins). Balthazar King has won five of his six completed starts over C&D so is much respected despite not being seen since his heavy fall in the National. Sire Collonges completes the shortlist.

Jaleo - Cheltenham 16:50

As ever, there are plenty of talking horses in this Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, including ex-French pair Diego du Charmil (having his first run for Paul Nicholls) and Campeador, but Jaleo very much caught the eye when tearing 11 lengths clear of the consistent Our Thomas at Catterick last time and the feeling is that his opening mark of 134 could well underestimate him. Unsurprisingly given his profile, Jaleo is very well bred and should have more to offer, and he's worth backing to give John Ferguson a big send-off win before he quits training at the end of the season to become chief executive and racing manager for a new-look Godolphin.

Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays

Back Arbre de Vie in the 14:50
Back Josies Orders in the 16:10
Back Jaleo in the 16:50

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