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Cheltenham Festival: The Ultimate Guide - 2021-03-05

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Paul Kealy’s best bets for each day

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Lieutenant Rocco Ultima Handicap Chase, Tuesday Has yet to be confirmed as a runner, but his other options are to take on either Monkfish in the Brown Advisory or Envoi Allen in the Marsh. As good as I think he is, he would be up against it with those two, but a handicap mark of 147 looks very workable given the way he swept aside the opposition on his first run at 3m at Ffos Las. He got the classy Fusil Raffles and Chantry House in trouble when splitting the pair over 2m4½f at Cheltenham in December, and if he can do that against those at that trip, he’ll have a lot of handicappers in trouble a long way out over 3m. The softest ground at the meeting is often on day one, and that would suit him too. Bob Olinger Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Wednesday It’s easy enough to argue that the Ballymore looks the best-quality novice hurdle at Cheltenham this year, although I’m not entirely sure the bookmakers have the right favourite. Punters obviously love a Mullins horse, so you can understand their thinking, but to these eyes Bob Olinger and Bravemansgame have better form. Paul Nicholls has likened Bravemansgame to Denman, so you certainly have to give him some respect, but Bob Olinger toyed with Blue Lord in a Grade 1 at Naas when last seen in January and that looks warm form. His only defeat came on his hurdles debut when he went down by a length to Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow, and while all his form has been on soft or heavy, his trainer is itching to see him on a better surface. Mister Fisher Ryanair Chase, Thursday Mister Fisher ran a big career-best over the Ryanair course and distance when beating Kalashnikov in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase in December and it’s pretty baffling that he remains a healthy double-figure price. In terms of this season’s form, the Racing Post Rating he earned there (168) is higher than all those ahead of him have produced from his likely rivals bar Kemboy, who could well have other options. Whether you agree with that or not, he is a considerably bigger price than the first three in the betting despite being a seven-year-old coming in off huge PB over course and distance, and had the form advertised when the runner-up finished third in the Denman Chase. Shattered Love Mares’ Chase, Friday It’s no great surprise to see Willie Mullins dominate the market for the first-ever mares’ chase at the festival as he has won 14 of the 18 mares’ races run over hurdles. His Elimay is a warm favourite after beating Shattered Love by five and a half lengths in the Opera Hat over 2m at Naas last month, but don’t rule out a much better performance from the runner-up. That 2m trip is nowhere near far enough for Shattered Love, but that was a big career-best from her at that distance and surely confirms she still retains most of her ability. It’s worth remembering the huge gamble she landed when taking the JLT Novices’ Chase on this day at this meeting three years ago, and if her trainer has her primed she will get a lot closer to the jolly here.

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Cheltenham - The Ultimate Guide

Racing Post + Cheltenham

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