Today's Racing News: It's back! Cheltenham fever grips a nation

Cheltenham races
Cheltenham takes top spot in today's column.

Cheltenham, Doncaster and Newbury all kick start their two-day meetings on Friday, but it's Prestbury Park racing that has gripped the nation, and on hand to guide you through is Daryl Carter.

"He could easily have ten pounds in hand here off this mark of 125 on the balance of the evidence, and he looks like one of the best bets on the card."

The excitement bubbling around Cheltenham's first meeting of the season is more glowing than I have ever known, and with crowds upwards of 10,000 due to attend for the first time in 18 months, the atmosphere is sure to be electric.

Newbury and Doncaster also hold some excellent racing on Friday. Dundalk, Sligo and Newcastle are the other meetings on offer today outside of the big three on what looks like a Friday to savour.

Money Talk

Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.

15:15 Doncaster - Postileo 10/3 into 5/2
17:25 Cheltenham - Top Bandit 11/2 into 4/1
17:30 Newcastle - Crane 13/2 into 9/2
20:30 Newcastle - Key Look 4/1 into 11/4

The market says LAY!

Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?

17:25 Cheltenham - John Locke 15/8 OUT 7/2

A big drift this morning for John Locke at Cheltenham. The market suggests he will continue to drift and is today's LAY.

Mark your card - Cheltenham

The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!

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In the opener, the 13:55 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, favourite and recent Persian War winner Camprond 1.51/2, will make his final start in a Novice event. He will lose his Novice status on October 31st so forget about him for the Novice races in March.

In the 14:30 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase, trainer Paul Nicholls is looking for his third win in the last ten years with Fidelio Vallis 3.02/1. However, that horse jumped with extreme accuracy at Chepstow last time and was still beaten. Third Time Lucki 2.77/4 can land the race for a second time for trainer Dan Skelton.

The Irish have taken two of the last three of the 15:05 What's Your Thinking Novices' Hurdle. Both Gordon Elliott and John McConnell look to repeat the feat with their runners Calagogo 4.57/2 and Bardenstown Lad 3.7511/4.

In the 16:15 Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle, no horse rated higher than 136 has won the race in the last ten years, and only two rated above 130 have won.

At 16:50, both Fergal O'Brien and Nigel Twiston-Davies are looking to win the race for the third time. O'Brien has the favourite Marquis Of Carabas 5.04/1 and has booked Derek O'Connor for the first time while Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Redford Road 8.07/1.

Don't forget Donny and Newbury

The Richard Hannon yard will look to continue their fine record in the 13:00 Virgin Bet Nursery Handicap at Doncaster. The yard has won this race three times, and they have two of the seven entries. Oh Herberts Reign 2.89/5 and Sharvara 9.08/1.

Trainer Ralph Beckett targets the 13:30 Virgin Bet EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Doncaster. He has won the race three times in the last ten years and saddles Moon De Vega 7.513/2.

Ralph Beckett also likes to target the 14:48 Join The BetVictor Loyalty Club Novice Stakes at Newbury. He has won this race for the last two years, with horses now rated 100 plus. Postmark 10.09/1.

Newbury's feature is the 16:30 Download The BetVictor App Handicap for which Molls Memory 5.04/1 is bidding to win for the third successive year. I like Gifted Ruler 21.020/1 here.

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Horses for courses - Cheltenham special

This section highlights horses that have won at Cheltenham

15:05 Cheltenham - Siruh Du Lac - Has won here twice (40%)
15:40 Cheltenham - Faivoir - Has won here twice (100%)
15:40 Cheltenham - Back On The Lash - Has won here once (25%)
16:15 Cheltenham - Coole Cody - Has won here twice (29%)
16:50 Cheltenham - Fact Of The Matter - Has won here once (25%)
16:50 Cheltenham - Petite Power - Has won here once (33%)
16:50 Cheltenham - Bermeo - Has won here once (33%)
16:50 Cheltenham - Madera Mist - Has won here once (50%)
16:50 Cheltenham - Redford Road - Has won here once (25%)

Weighted to go well

"Weighted to go well" highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.

16:55 Doncaster - Just Hiss - Has won off 82 runs off 72
17:00 Newbury - Teruntum Star - Has won off 90 runs off 71

Form Watch

This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.

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Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has been operating at a 27% strike rate in the last 14 days. Today he saddles three runners at Cheltenham.

Furthest traveller

Today's furthest traveller is trainer Nicky Henderson. He has travelled 285 miles to Newcastle with his runner Crane 4.57/2 in the 17:30.

Race of the day

There's no place like Cheltenham, so we head there to focus on one race in this section, and that's the 14:30 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase, a race won in recent years by some useful yardsticks.

This is tough to find a bet. Sir Tivo 26.025/1, the outsider of the field, should not be dismissed lightly, but Buddy Rich 6.511/2 for Gordon Elliott does jump out to the right, so he may find this left-handed track tricky to negotiate.

Fidelio Vallis will surely prove popular for his in-form trainer Paul Nicholls with his four for six record over fences. He is a very good jumper of a fence and has improved leaps and bounds for the larger obstacles.

His limitations were slightly exposed at Chepstow, however. He jumped almost foot-perfect on that occasion but was readily brushed aside by chase debutant Tea Clipper.

He is entitled to improve given that the run came on the back of a break, but he comes up against stronger opposition here, and this looks no easy pickings on what will likely be his final start as a novice (loses status on the 31st October).

Third Time Lucki makes his chase debut, and being from the Dan Skelton yard, it's highly likely he has been schooled vigorously.

He failed to deliver on the promise he showed in bumpers once over hurdles last season in what was a strange campaign, but he started the season off well and more is expected from him over fences.

This is his first start after wind surgery, and he does have a sole point to point run under his belt, although the bare form of that wouldn't be good enough here.

He is a fascinating addition to this sphere, and it would be disappointing should he not make a good fist of this and come out on top.

Any News deserved a small upgrade in my book for his chase debut at Warwick when giving away race-fitness to an improving rival and hitting the final fence hard when it mattered.

He is a horse of considerable promise, but there is a mistake in him, and it's slightly deflating that the Warwick winner jumped poorly in the main and still managed to beat him.

He is entitled to improve for experience and fitness and is one of the more likely types.

Timeform offer a Royal Invertation at Newcastle

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The Timeform team head to Newcastle today to offer up three of their best bets.

Read Timeform tips here.

Aye, Aye Captain

During this season, most of my bets will be in the Novice Chase division, but I thought both races today were tricky with limited information, so there was almost no bet on the card - almost.

The 16:15 Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle looks tricky on the whole, but Captain Morgs is undoubtedly well-handicapped, and he is too hard to ignore in this contest.

This is Nicky Henderson's sole entry on the Cheltenham card today, and this looks like a good spot for the five-year-old to get off the mark at the first time of asking in handicaps.

He recorded an excellent time figure when taking the scalp of the now 136 rated Annual Invictus at Kempton last October.

The pair pulled nine lengths clear of the field, and the third is now rated three pounds higher than the selection.

It wasn't just that run either, he bumped into Ajero at the same venue next time when doing his best work at the finish over 2m, and that rival is now rated 137.

The sharp Fakenham track was all wrong for him, and he looked awkward on that occasion. He bumped into the now 134 rated Shang Tang, and it's easy to forgive his final two starts of the season.

The trip looks spot on, and this more galloping track will certainly suit him, and the return to a sounder surface is no negative either. He could easily have ten pounds in hand here off this mark of 125 on the balance of the evidence, and he looks like one of the best bets on the card.

Final Word

Cheltenham is back! That's all he wrote!

Until Monday, have a great weekend and be lucky!

Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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