14:30 Cheltenham

An exciting small-field novice chase in store with the Paul Nicholls-trained Fidelio Vallis setting the standard (four from six over fences) but conceding eight-pounds’ to THIRD TIME LUCKI (best price 7-4) might prove beyond him and it’s the latter who gets the vote to make a winning chase debut. 

He quickly developed into a smart hurdler last term having finished fourth in the 2020 champion bumper, winning three times prior to finishing an excellent sixth in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and then when fourth in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree. He’s the only one of the five to have no chasing experience under his belt but he comes out best at the weights and should take some beating with a clear round. 

Third Time Lucki - 1pt @ 7/4

15:05 Cheltenham

DRAGON BONES (best price 7-2) has been taking huge steps in the right direction in which she’s now unbeaten in all completed starts in this sphere and would be arriving here five-from-five without unseating her rider with the race at her mercy at Southwell. Ian Williams’ mare clearly has an engine and, with the possibility of being aimed at the Mares Hurdle race at the Cheltenham Festival, a long term project which seems logical, this progressive six-year-old has an excellent chance under young Charlie Todd. 

Dragon Dones - 1pt @ 7/2

15:40 Cheltenham

Falvoir and ANNUAL INVICTUS (best price 11-4) fought out the finish nineteen days ago when the former did it well enough to enhance his fine strike-rate but the latter was less than three lengths adrift in second that day and being eight-pounds’ better off here with the longer trip sure to suit, Chris Gordon’s charge may gain revenge and come out on top. Last year’s Betfair Hurdle fourth bagged a three-timer over hurdles last term and, with this track likely to see him to best effect, especially with an attacking ride in order, he could take some passing under Tom Cannon though Danny Kirwan is greatly feared. 

Annual Invictus - 1pt @ 11/4

16:15 Cheltenham

Saint Sonnet and Guard Your Dreams have strong claims on last year’s form even though CLEMENCIA (best price 28-1) is a bit of a speculative selection, there are potentially a lot of things in his favour including this course which clearly plays to his strengths.  

Highly tried when trained in Ireland, the five-year-old finished fourth in a Grade 2 behind Aspire Tower before filling the same spot in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle. He then changed hands to Tim Vaughan and ran a massive race in last year’s Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, staying on powerfully to finish fifth of twenty-two, beaten less than four lengths. He then fell when in contention back there next-time-out in another highly-competitive handicap before putting that firmly behind him when finishing fourth of sixteen at Cheltenham in December. The only caveat, though, is the fact that he’s returning from a long absence but his mark is appealing now that he’s six-pound lower than when spotted at the Cheltenham Festival and, if connections have him tuned up for his reappearance, he might represent a bit of each-way value with several bookmakers paying four places. 

Clemencia - 0.5pts e/w @ 28/1

16:50 Cheltenham

The consistent BOUGHTBEFORELUNCH (best price 20-1) looks very interesting in the Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase with Gina Andrews in the saddle and makes plenty of each-way appeal with four places widely available and with the possibility of going one better than he did in this last year. 

The eight-year-old was runner-up on his sole visit to this track in this race last year and, although this demands a career-best, he jumps well and goes well for today’s rider. He was successful when last sighted over this trip, winning by eight-lengths, and this consistent staying handicap chaser responded well to pressure when second at Aintree next time. He’s up against some interesting types such as Carnet De Stage and other promising youngsters but he’s reliable, has the course form and should be thereabouts. 

Boughtbeforelunch - 0.5pts e/w @ 20/1

BERMEO (best price 16-1) enjoyed a productive season last year in which he won twice and placed twice including when a narrow second to the 140-rated Storm Control this time last year here and last year’s winner of this event gets the call to produce another bold display at his favourite venue with four places generally available. 

The ten-year-old has a good strike-rate and absolutely destroyed twelve participants when he won this race twelve months ago by six-lengths. He then returned here the following month to be just touched off by Storm Control which is useful form and made the frame here in May when keeping on strongly to finish third despite being thirteen-pounds’ out of the handicap. He’s since joined Tim Vaughan, a trainer who can ready one first-time-out, and has form figures at this track of 213 from three outings so this track seemingly suits him and that will count for plenty. A top female rider has been booked for the ride and the price about last year’s winner looks too big to ignore so he’ll be my second each-way choice in this wide-open handicap chase.

Bermeo - 0.5pts e/w @ 16/1