Daryl says his NAP can land the money on Saturday
Chantry House is very appealing back over hurdles
Final Orders can make his presence felt in the feature race
Burdett Road - 9/43.25 on the Betfair Sportsbook - needs to learn to settle in his races. Still, he ran out a very convincing winner on his hurdle debut at Huntingdon despite running freely, and the fact that he could best everything on the card in the time figure department marked him down as a useful horse.
The form, as mentioned in the Cheltenham Focus column, is streets away from any Grade 1 contest he may tackle down the line, but this race lacks depth, and he was the best of these on the flat. He will have stiffer tasks ahead, but he made a bright start at Huntingdon, and it's wise not to knock him just yet.
Milan Tino automatically heads the market, having run behind Jigme in France. Still, it's hard to weigh up that form, considering the same crop of horses continuously beat each other. I'd happily look over that Jigme French form on a time-figure basis and hope the James Owen runner can come out on top today.
Back the selection at 9/43.25 or bigger.
Finding the winner is tricky here, but it's a race with stacks of pace. The likely pace angles are Stage Star, The Real Whacker, Easy As That and Whistleinthedark. Therefore, I'd be against The Real Whacker based on this rating of 162 on seasonal return. He would have to put in a 170-plus performance to win this, and he was well beaten on his seasonal return over hurdles at the October meeting last year while clinging to victory in the Novices Chase on this card over Indigo Breeze also suggested he improved for throughout the season. He was first off my list.
Notlongtillmay hardly steamed home here behind Dancing On My Own last month, and he was flattered by his second to Stage Star in the Turner's Novices Chase at the festival last year when he and the winner were well positioned in a steadily run affair. I'd happily say Stage Star is the best of that pair by more than the 3lbs the ratings suggest, so Laura Morgan's runner was next to be scratched off.
Unexpected Party did exactly what I thought he would do to Knappers Hill at Chepstow and put the race to him off the front. The Skelton's tried to take advantage of their experience, but last year, they held him up all season, and I expect them to adopt the same tactics in this race today.
That may be a positive considering the pace in this contest, and his rating is well within reach under normal circumstances, but he was all out at the death at Chepstow with the runner-up closing right to the line. That was a good opportunity for him to score and a well-played tactical race. Today won't be so straightforward, and I am not convinced this 2 1/2 miles is what he wants.
The time to catch Il Ridoto - who is fairly treated under the claim of Freddie Gingell - is the second time out. He has needed the run for the last two years, and I expect the same in the deepest race he has faced to date.
Fugitif - despite being much worse off at the weights with Il Ridoto - is a little harder to scrub off the page. He continues to thrive on his racing, and the cheek-pieces for the first time could spark further improvement, and he likes it here. He has looked a little reluctant to go past the leader on a couple of occasions, so this headgear could make all the difference while he has a good record fresh - typically, all of the signs you want for a winner of a race.
He must make any shortlist and is sure to run his race unless he decides to throw a strop with his new headgear.
Angels Breath ran very disappointingly at this meeting last month over hurdles off of an attractive mark, and the circuit times, along with his racing position and his excellent record fresh, suggested he should have done much better if he was the same horse he once was. Perhaps better should be expected today, although it's hard to build a real case on any recent form.
Harpers Brook was quickly scrubbed off, having pulled himself up at Sandown when last seen. There's little doubt he is well-treated if putting it all together, but the last thing you want is him racing alone on an uphill finish.
I was interested in Torn And Frayed, but Sam Twiston-Davies has favoured The Real Whacker - likely because it's a potential Gold Cup ride - but his 600-odd-day absence is very off-putting. At the same time, Authorized Art, Black Gerry and Whistleinthedark all looked handicapped out of things.
That left my shortlist as Stage Star, Fugitif, Final Orders and Easy As That. While the latter is difficult to make a strong case for, on the bare form, he could have any improvement to come given his lightly raced profile, but he can make jumping errors, and this bigger field might not suit him.
Stage Star looks on a fair mark on the balance, but I am not telling you anything you didn't know from the market.
Final Orders could outrun his odds under this claimer, which now sees him seven pounds lower than his Grand Annual fifth when unable to get into the race from off a steady stop-start gallop.
He will get a very true test of stamina today, and that could prove right up his street with an unexposed profile over 2 1/2 miles. The Betfair Sportsbook is ducking him a little as he is bigger elsewhere. Either way, I could leave it there.
I can imagine that Nicky Henderson wants to get another victory under the belt of Chantry House - 9/110.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - without any long-term plan at the moment as he returns from 327 days off the track, and this race here looks like an excellent opportunity.
Chantry House returns to hurdles off of a rating of 147, having reached 162 over fences, while his last run in this sphere was a third in the Supreme Novice Hurdle behind Shishkin in 2020. While things have yet to go to plan over fences, that doesn't mean his ability doesn't still ring true, and having failed to complete due to falling or unseating the last twice when we saw him, the market doesn't know what to expect.
However, with a record reading UR,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 when arriving at the track fresh, he is impossible to ignore returned to this sphere into a Class 2 handicap for the first time. A duel Grade 1 winner over fences providing he is fit, should be going close here, with the Betfair Sportsbook paying four places.
Back Chantry House at 7/18.00 or bigger.
The best bet of the three days at Cheltenham has to be Springwell Bay - 9/43.25 on the Betfair Sportsbook - who improved race-by-race last season, ending with an excellent effort at Aintree in the Grade 1 contest when finishing sixth having been badly hampered at the seventh by the fall of the ill-fated Dark Raven.
He did well to finish where he did there, and further improvement will surely come this season as his stamina is drawn out. He tanked through a well-run Grade 1 race at Aintree and now finds himself in a Class 3 0-140, which would be a 0-130 without his presence.
He has an excellent record fresh, winning all of his three starts off the back of breaks of 97 days, 205 days and 329 days, and the extra furlong is another bonus with a career lying in wait over 3m this season.
He ticked the form box, the time figure box, and the course box with a good staying-on third to Fennor Cross at last year's meeting. I expect him to win this before tackling bigger races this season, and he must be thrown in off a rating in the 130s in a race of this nature.
Back the selection at 11/102.11 or bigger.
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