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Friday 12 December 2014

Cheltenham Friday 12th December

We  have a good meeting at Cheltenham, and it is a meeting that I've had some success at in the past.

The meeting opens at 12:30 with a novice chase over 3m1f & 110 yards which has been won by some decent types in the past. As such, we should pay attention to all the runners with an eye for the future.  Kings Palace looks the most obvious to do best after beating Sausolito Sunrise LTO. Kings Palace was also a very high-class novice hurdler and even tho' there is a turn-around in the weights of 8lb for a 4-length advantage, I can't see Sausolito Sunrise reversing the places. Don't overlook Vivaldi Collonges who is having his chase debut for Paul Nicholls, as this well-related 5yo is destined to be a much better chaser than hurdler and odds of 9/1 look interesting given he has an 8lb advantage.

The 2m4f handicap chase at 1:05 could provide a wagering opportunity. The front-running Al Alfa was 4th in this race last season off OR117, so it's unlikely he will improve on that running-off OR123.  The obvious form contentender is Gallery Exhibition, but I'm not sure this drop in trip will favour him today. Buck Mulligan has been running consistently without winning off OR124, but his best form is at around this trip (he doesn't stay much further) and the ground will suit him too. At 14/1 he looks a fair eachway wager opportunity in a race which should be run at a good pace but with questionmarks over a fair number of the runners.

The 2m1f handicap hurdle at 1:40 was last won by Nicky Henderson in 2009 and he sends the unexposed Lough Kent to be ridden by Barry Geraghty. It is hard to say how good this horse is, but Henderson thought he was worth a "County" hurdle entry at the last Festival. Street Entertainer will  enjoy this trip and wont be far away. The 2m5f trip here LTO found him out and he was passed on the run-in and, as a result of that effort, he's been raised 2lb - but I think he's the value in this at odds of 11/2, if Lough Kent isn't a handicap blot.

The 3m2f handicap chase at 2:10 has been won by some good handicappers, usually those on there was to a Grand National bid next April. It won't be easy for Hadrian's Approach with 11st 12lb, but expect this consistent chaser to run a cracker. I'm not confident that Cowards Close will go close in this as he doesn't seem to be improving.  You can't say the same of The Ould Lad who has won his last couple of chases and runs here effectively off OR127 (carries 10st which is 4lb less than the OR131 rated Standing Ovation). As he's been rated OR130 following his latest win, he's well-in and this lightly-raced horse looks exciting. While I can't see the 11yo Charingworth repeating his LTO win, I am expecting a big run from the 7yo Standing Ovation who goes well here. His run when 2nd on the "Old" Course over 3m1f in October looks good form now, but his run LTO in the "Badger" (a race he won in 2013) has left a questionmark as he pulled-up a long way out. Of the others, Samstown won a hurdle LTO and he looks a cracking staying chaser in the making - however, he's up 20lb for his last chase win to OR136. Lamb Or Cod seems to be at his best between April to October (4 wins from 8 starts), as he's only won once in the months of November to March from 12 starts and he pulled-up LTO.  The Ould Lad is the worthy fav, and odds of 4/1 could looks generous after the race, but Samstown at 10/1 (available generally, and 11/1 with Stan James) looks interesting as an eachway wager.

Of the other meetings, at Bangor at 2:30 the hurdler No No Mac should be able to recoup the losses from his seasonal debut when 2nd at Sandown LTO. Unfortunately, as his odds are less than 9/4 he can't be recommended as a wager - but 13/8 offered by Ladbrokes and Coral looks dangerous.

No recommended wagers from me today, but I'll be placing Buck Mulligan, Street Entertainer, and Samstown in small-stakes eachway doubles and trebles.

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