We have one last chance to land some profit at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, and what a meeting it has been once again.
With the conditional jockeys having their shot at glory bets need to be carefully considered in this race, given that this is not a track that suits the inexperienced but that said we have some fine contenders to take out from the 23-strong field.
Here’s our dirty half-dozen:
Espoir De Romay
Some big-priced horses have a serious chance in this tight handicap as they always do and Espoir De Romay is one of them. Kim Bailey has already been successful this week and for our column too, with this horse being two from four over fences including over this trip and on soft ground giving him another chance.
There’s no way of accurately knowing how much improvement there is to come from the six-year-old or how he’ll handle this type of event, but he’s in there with a shout of that we’re sure.
Flash The Steel
Dan Skelton’s charge has been off the track since November after a poor run, but before that he was an impressive winner at Chepstow with a performance that earmarked him as very much one to watch in this sort of race.
If he’s fit and well after his break, he can resume improvement which is something that must see him go close considering he’s just 8lbs higher than when last winning and that was some five months ago.
An admirable mare who seems to have been underestimated once again. Second to impressive festival winner Dame De Compagnie around here in December, she has since gone on to finish third in a Listed mares’ hurdle and won last time out at Warwick in a similar race and in good fashion too.
It’s normal that such successes mean horses of her type aren’t well handicapped for these events, but 145 doesn’t truly represent her real ability and so she can still live up to her name and make her mark.
On a hat-trick now for the Philip Hobbs yard, Pileon was third around here in December showing no obvious dislike for the terrain and comes into the race having won a heavy ground novice hurdle ever so easily by some 20 lengths.
He’s only gone up 8lbs for that win and it seems his opening handicap mark is more than fair, so as long as this quicker race brings the requisite improvement from him then he certainly has to go in the well handicapped column.
The Bosses Oscar
Form figures of 1212 this season say plenty about this horse, a typically improving Gordon Elliott runner who arrives here having put in a fine performance at Thurles, albeit in defeat.
He’s definitely better on softer ground and so we should see a completely different animal today, one who can continue his rise up the ranks and looks capable of a run somewhere around the mid-140’s or above in terms of ratings, making his mark of 138 seem generous to us and that could be the deciding factor.
David Pipe trains this horse in a race named after his dad, and we’re sure he’ll have planned this out perfectly.
While his form stacks up after fair runs at Haydock and Ascot and the team are sure to have readied this horse for a big run given the occasion, he has looked better on dryer ground in all fairness and so we’re just not sure he will have things completely to his liking on the day.
The mare Indefatigable is underestimated and overpriced here and can put up a bold show, while Pileon could prove to be well handicapped and shouldn’t be stopping on this ground at the business end of the race.
Both of those horses can run into a place all things being well, but the one with the most fascinating profile and who looks best off of all at the weights is Gordon Elliott’s THE BOSSES OSCAR and so he is the selection.
Remarkably consistent, this gelding didn’t have conditions to suit last time and so could have been coming into this race a winner with therefore with more weight to carry. At just five he has more improvement in him than any of his major rivals by our reckoning and so all things considered he looks the safest play in this festival-ending contest.