Tom Stanley brings you his best bets at Cheltenham.
Reports suggest it could get pretty wet at Cheltenham and I wonder how many will turn up for the feature. At the moment Splash Of Ginge is a silly price and he has form on juicy ground so can’t see him defecting. There’s pace but I like he’ll not get too far back, particularly if some come out, and he’s just 4lb above his last win, here by 3 and a half lengths with Jamie Bargary on top. I like his trainer sent him over hurdles for a prep on reappearance with today’s jockey on top and think he’s been aimed at this yet somewhat forgotten in the market. Also on the list are Monetaire, for obvious reasons, and Buywise (plenty will have given up but I just wonder if softer ground is what he needs in these types of races) but Double Ross looks a big price after a return to form last time. He’s back up 3lb but has an excellent record at the track and, in particular, on soft ground. 4 of his 5 wins have come with soft in the going description and he was 2nd to Wishful Thinking here a few years ago off 5lb lower on heavy ground. Age isn’t on his side but he’s worth chancing with 5 places on offer in spots.
Hoping it’s a good afternoon for the Twiston-Davies team because Cogry looks a decent bet in the preceding handicap chase. 4 miles seemed to stretch him a little on his last 2 starts last term, both on good ground, but a return to shorter with a bit of cut underfoot should really suit. He might need this but did win fresh 2 years ago and won on his first completed start last term so it could be a good time to catch him. Connections obviously think he’ll get further but it’ll take a proper staying performance to take this and I fancy there’s room to progress in his 2nd season over fences off 135. Perfect Candidate should appreciate softer ground than last time whilst Shotgun Paddy looks a well treated horse and they complete the shortlist.
Nearly went Twiston-Davies again in the handicap hurdle, Sam this time, but it’s the other Nicholls runner that catches the eye at the prices. He didn’t make the cut for the Pertemps last year but duly won at the end of March at Ascot over the furthest he’d been and looks as though he’ll get even further. A winner at this meeting last year on soft, the likely rain will not inconvenience and, for all he’s 19b higher now, it’s interesting his trainer is still persevering over hurdles when chasing is very much on the cards. Blinkers are added to the normal tongue-tie and his trainer uses them to good effect, as he does young claimers and Harry Cobden takes off a useful 7. In fact, whilst writing this, the price about Easter Day has edged out further and looks too big. He’s well treated, goes at the track and on easy ground, and may just need a return to hurdles to get his confidence back.