Timeform preview the big Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day...
"He finished second to Waiting Patiently at Uttoxeter last December, before going on to finish fourth in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase here the following month..."
Connections of Waiting Patiently have had to bid their time, the seven-year-old not seen on the track since winning at Carlisle on his reappearance in early-November. That was his fifth win in a row, having secured three novice chase wins last term, including beating subsequent Tingle Creek winner Politologue at Haydock last January. Waiting Patiently is clearly progressive, and looks potentially well-treated on his handicap debut (on a form line through Carlisle runner-up Belami des Pictons), so must be taken very seriously despite encountering the biggest field he has faced.
Venetia Williams saddled Stan to win this race in 2009 and looks to have another leading contender in Burtons Well. He finished second to Waiting Patiently at Uttoxeter last December, before going on to finish fourth in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase here the following month. Burtons Well was still going well when falling at the ninth in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at the Festival in March, but proved he was over that incident when beaten a neck by Romain de Senam at Stratford on his reappearance in October. The winner was well-in under a 6 lb penalty that day, and has franked the form since, finishing fifth in both the Bet Victor Gold Cup and Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Likely to get his preferred ground (best form on soft/heavy going) and open to further improvement, Burtons Well is fancied to defy a 3 lb higher mark.
Shantou Flyer has joined Richard Hobson from Rebecca Curtis since winning this race last season (Quite By Chance sixth from 1 lb lower mark) and is only 3 lb higher here. He has mainly contested better races since, including the Grand National, and should be suited by the drop in class and trip here; he can run well at 20/1, especially if the ground deteriorates any further.
Sametegal has improved for the application of a tongue tie, running well on his return from 608 days off at Wetherby in November. He wasn't quite in the same form when seven lengths third to Gas Line Boy in the Grand Sefton (Mercian Prince eighth) at Aintree last month, but it was encouraging that he could string good efforts back to back after his long absence; he looks on a fair mark.
Oldgrangewood also has recent form of the Grand National fences, third in the Old Roan at Aintree in October, and he then ran as well as ever when winning at Newbury last time by half a length from Jameson. He is 3 lb higher here but should continue to give a good account. Buywise appears to be at the other end of the spectrum, seemingly on a downhill slope since fourth to Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival in March. He is now very well-handicapped, however, and should get the strong pace here which sees him to best effect; if his jumping holds up he could surprise a few.
Of the others, Ramses de Teillee converted a series of placed efforts when winning comfortably at Chepstow in November and his second to Get On The Yager at Fontwell last time was franked by the winner in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Theinval is starting to look attractively handicapped, but was slightly below form when third to Overtown Express last time and is yet to prove he stays this far on ground worse than good.
Win back Burtons Well to win the Betbright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day