The money may not be massive this time around for the Pertemps Final, but yet again the race is mightily competitive.
A full field will line-up for this tough-to-call three-mile handicap hurdle, one in which we tentatively think these six are all capable of giving punters a run for their money.
Things are tight in this race and many an outsider has been prepped to perfection in it in the past, however this Brinkley is on a hat-trick and it’s hard to ignore his form claims.
David Pipe’s six-year-old grey in fact is three from four for the stable and was also a short-priced favourite in his other start. He’s a real improver then, though given his apparent liking for the soft ground he’s been racing on most often, the drying ground we may be getting before this event may just blunt him a little.
Representing rock-solid connections of Messrs JP McManus, Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville, Champagne Platinum caught the eye last time out at Haydock when staying on quietly but steadily for a modest second place.
Given that he’s probably better on this sort of ground, his latest run can be upgraded now and it means he comes into this without going up greatly in the handicap which is something else we can’t ignore.
His previous Cheltenham runs haven’t seen him perform to his very best level, though that could be coincidental and so he has a solid chance.
Come On Teddy
Come On Teddy’s chances are rather obvious here. He was beaten by five lengths behind the well-fancied Imperial Alcazar last time out when favourite and is now 8lbs better off with that horse.
Furthermore, before that run at Warwick, he landed a course and distance handicap hurdle in great style from solid yardstick On The Blind Side and would appear to be very much at home around here.
Should there be any further improvement from Tom George’s gelding then he ranks very highly indeed and remains a decent price too.
Just at the right age and with a great profile for this event is the aforementioned Imperial Alcazar. The seven-year-old represents the immensely popular Fergal O’Brien who, as a local trainer, knows exactly what is needed to land races on this course.
Arguably his best work has been done on very soft surfaces, so drying ground may be a concern, however regardless this race will take some getting and only those with confirmed stamina will be staying on up the hill.
Imperial Alcazar is definitely in that group. He plugged on admirably for runner-up spots at Newcastle and Cheltenham last season, and last time out improved markedly to land one of the qualifiers for this race at Warwick when he pulled away in good style.
He’s gone up 8lbs for that, but he did it with something in hand and is on the improve, so remains as solid as they come for this under Paddy Brennan.
Paul Nicholls’ representative has form figures in his rules races of 3121223 thus far which is a real positive factor.
He’s clearly consistent, but with that stability has also come some steady improvement and so he simply cannot be ruled out of this contest. He stays three miles and ground is not a concern, so Harry Cobden’s mount is a very fair each-way shout.
The Bosses Oscar
Part of the former Gordon Elliott brigade, The Bosses Oscar now runs for Denise Foster and comes into the contest having run his best race to date when finishing second at Leopardstown.
He keeps improving, which we love, but also keeps being raised in the weights and often without winning which makes us wonder how much he really has in hand at the weights.
If the handicapper hasn’t truly got to him then he’s a real force in this race as conditions should be to his liking, but given connections he may also have been slightly over bet and so won’t represent great value in a race of this nature.
It’s a cracking line-up then for first big betting handicap of the day, with Brinkley remaining of interest at fair each-way odds.
As is often the case, there is one particular form line that seems strongest here, and that is the qualifier run a couple of months ago at Warwick in which Come On Teddy ran well and IMPERIAL ALCAZAR looked the perfect type for this race.