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Paddy Power Cheltenham meeting day one - pt I

Enough of this freezing cold weather cancelling meetings, it's Cheltenham time! I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of National Hunt racing but if Cheltenham doesn't get your adrenalin flowing, then you best be checking if you still have a pulse...

Rather than a detailed preview of the feature race, for Friday's card I have two exceptional young writers with a brief analysis of each race. Opening the batting is blog regular Jack Milner, @jjmsports.

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We’re back at Cheltenham tomorrow, and a solid card it is on Friday, featuring a nice batch of novices and handicaps, hopefully there should be some value around. Let’s have a delve in – so to speak.

The first race is a novices chase that Nicky Henderson in particularly has a good record in, winning it last year with Solix amongst others. Barry Geraghty this time rides Broadback Bob, and although impressive last time out, he didn’t beat a lot, and I expect him to be very short on reputation alone. Forgotten Gold grinded out a win at Aintree over three miles over a next time out winner, but looks a grinder, and dropping back in trip isn’t guaranteed to be suited. I don’t like the look of Rebel Rebellion and Super Duty and although under the burden of top weight, HILDISVINI looks to be a chance. He was very impressive when winning over two and a half miles at Huntingdon, twice beating the Emma Lavelle trained Well Regarded, the second win under a penalty. His jumping was very, very good, the stable are in good nick, and the son of Milan looks to have a very eye-catching profile for a race such as this.

The conditional jockeys' handicap looks an open affair but there are two who I will personally be backing and those are PLEIN POUVOIR and LEXICON LAD. The first, runs for the in form Venetia Williams stable, a week after slogging out a three mile handicap chase at Wincanton. He looked very tired towards the latter stages, and back down to two miles five should suit. Talented apprentice Harry Challoner takes the ride instead of Aiden Coleman, and takes off 3lb. Lexicon Lad is down to a mark of 118 for his reappearance at Aintree, and is at the same mark when he gave his best performance to date, over course and distance here in January. He finished a very game second to Alan King’s Bless the Wings that day, and the form of that race has worked out very well. His form over this trip is U3132 – but he has found defeat to the likes of Havingotascoobydo, Bless The Wings, Trafalgar Road and Pasco, and he looks well handicapped.

Another handicap hurdle, this time over the extended two miles, and another tough contest, however it is very hard to see past the DAN BREEN for the red-hot Pipe stable, whose stable seem to come good just before a big Cheltenham meeting, and this week has been no different. He looks to capitalise on his relatively low hurdles mark, for a horse placed in a Celebration Chase and Greatwood Gold Cup. He had a smart spin around Ascot last month, running behind next time out winner Petit Robin Talented claimer Frank Haynes, who had a winner for the yard on Thursday.

Midnight Chase is a Cheltenham specialist, winning here for the last three seasons, but under the burden of top weight against classier rivals that appear well handicapped could bring him to be unstuck. The two I like are ground and market dependant, those being PLANET OF SOUND and QUARTZ DE THAIX. I tipped up Quartz de Thaix last time out and he looks a very smart staying chaser. Although up 17lb, he is very progressive and looks to have further scope to improve. He has won at the track before and again for the red hot Venetia. Planet of Sound who looked in needing the run when behind Silviniaco Conti at Wetherby but he could run a big race trickling down the handicap if the ground doesn’t get too desperate, and may be a price in the process. Market vibes will likely suggest just how good a run he will put in.

12.15 Cheltenham – Hildisvini

12.45 Cheltenham – Plein Pouvoir & Lexicon Lad

1.20 Cheltenham – Dan Breen

1.55 Cheltenham – Quartz De Thaix & Planet Of Sound

Not featured here, but listed in case he gets on a roll...
2.30 Cheltenham – Uncle Junior & Arabella Boy

3.05 Cheltenham – Cross Kennon & Monetary Fund

3.40 Cheltenham – Village Vic


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