Despite being a basket case of a race at first glance; a bunch of closely-matched four-year-olds with precious little top-class form to go on in a handicap scenario, this is a race that should be won by the right horse with the right form.
Some good types have already taken this contest in the past and it could by that a Grade 2 winner who has mixed it with the right animals could have been underestimated and overpriced by the layers this year, handing us a fine betting opportunity.
Here are our six against the field:
This horse has an impressive profile with his form levels rising all the time. On debut he was favourite to beat Allmankind, a horse now rated 148, who has since taken care comfortably of several of today’s rivals and who is 4/1 third-favourite for the Triumph Hurdle.
Although that debut didn’t go well, he was second next time out before improving massively again to score in Grade 2 company around here in January on his third ever start from Night Edition and Gerolamo Cardano.
He will go up another notch here we’re sure and off 134 he looks to have been underestimated by the handicapper which is always the main betting ingredient in a race of this nature.
One of Gordon Elliott’s and with a bit of experience, he could make that tell in this environment but on the flip side it means we have seen more of this horse and know his ability, so bearing in mind he’s been beaten four times out of five over hurdles we can’t call him a superstar.
That said, this is his first handicap and he too may have been underestimated giving him a place chance for sure in a competitive race.
Third in that Grade 2 behind Galahad Quest, this one has raced since and ran very disappointingly but he clearly loves it around Cheltenham in these conditions and so he has to make the shortlist, particularly with a 3lb pull in the weights.
It seems certain to us that Galahad Quest can and probably has improved a lot more than 3lbs since January 25th though, leaving Kielan Woods’ mount with work to do for the win but with a place well within his grasp if he’s back on form.
These JP McManus enigmas are always interesting, but also almost always over bet given their actual profiles. Mick Pastor won at Auteuil, was also favourite to beat Allmankind and won last time out at Ludlow.
Considering both he and Galahad Quest were both favoured against the same horse, this one failed to run well at Cheltenham while the other one has landed a Grade 2 here, it seems very strange that Mick Pastor is around 8/1 best-price while Nick Williams’ horse is closer to the 20/1 mark and so he’s passed over.
Second in that Galahad Quest race in January, much like Gerolamo Cardano he has his work cut out to improve past his conqueror at these weights you’d feel but David Pipe’s charge has won since then and so will arrive a better horse and match fit too.
His win last time was comfortable and yet narrow making it really difficult to assess, so sticking with the Cheltenham Trials Day form he may just have to play second-fiddle to his old rival once again.
Another interesting runner at a big price, John Queally’s horse comes into this race having not performed well when reasonably well fancied for a Grade 2 at Leopardstown on Boxing Day but before that he’d been improving very nicely.
Naturally his work has been largely done in slower paced maidens and novice races so it remains to be seen whether or not he handles the rough and tumble of this contest, but he’s certainly not out of it.
Without putting all our eggs in just the one basket here, the form of that Triumph Hurdle trial in January we feel is the form line to concentrate on, with GALAHAD QUEST not only the winner on the day but the one with the most potential improvement and he gets the nod at a juicy looking price.
Both Night Edition and Gerolamo Cardano would therefore need to be considered, while of the Irish raiders Gealach is the one to appeal most and again at very backable each-way odds.