‘His close third at Warwick firmly indicates the hill will play to his strengths’
THURSDAY PADDY POWER PLATE HANDICAP CHASE
JOSH DOWN 1. Conflated 2. Umbrigado 3. Fils D’oudairies Conflated has kept decent company in novice chases and this intermediate trip saw him to best effect when bolting up at Navan. This has possibly been the plan since and his owners have won this race with similar types. Umbrigado has improved for going chasing and has long shaped like a big pot is within his grasp – the Grand Annual is also an option. Fils D’oudairies isn’t a certain runner but he could also be well treated based on his close second to Envoi Allen. SAM HARDY 1. Al Dancer 2. Caribean Boy 3. Oldgrangewood The best chance of a winner this week for Nigel Twistondavies looks to be with two-time Cheltenham winner Al Dancer. The 2019 Supreme favourite is yet to win at the festival, although this race represents a step down in grade. Caribean Boy could be potentially well handicapped having only had five runs for trainer Nicky Henderson, including a Grade 2 novice chase win, and could be the main danger to the selection. JACK HAYNES 1. Fanion D’estruval 2. Battleoverdoyen 3. Fils D’oudairies A return to two and a half miles can see Fanion D’estruval go close in this handicap chase. He has been outpaced at crucial points over shorter trips the last twice but ran with particular credit in the Clarence House, in which he was beaten nine lengths in fourth. He was set to run a big race when falling three out in the Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham earlier this season and might just prove better than handicap company. Battleoverdoyen similarly brings Graded form and has claims. BEN HUTTON 1. Admiral’s Secret 2. Schiehallion Munro 3. Conflated He may be a ten-year-old but the Victor Dartnalltrained Admiral’s Secret has been better than ever this season and the way he stayed on for a close third over 2m4f at Warwick last month firmly indicates the Cheltenham hill will play to his strengths. Schiehallion Munro did well to finish second at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day having failed to handle the tight track, and the novice Conflated is an interesting contender. TOM PARK 1. Midnight Shadow 2. Conflated 3. Umbrigado Last season’s Marsh could not be working out better. Yes, the winner Samcro has disappointed, but Melon has run well in some big races, we haven’t seen Faugheen, but Mister Fisher (fourth), Tornado Flyer (fifth) and Annie Mc (ninth) have all run good races this season and that means that Midnight Shadow (sixth) could be well handicapped off a mark of 149. He ran well when second in the Caspian Caviar and his last run over hurdles was clearly a stepping stone to this and he can run a massive race. MADDY PLAYLE 1. Conflated 2. Farmix 3. Farclas The Irish novice chasers look superior to their British counterparts this season given the exploits of Energumene and Monkfish to name just two, so unexposed types like Conflated and Farmix look as if they could be potentially well treated and suited to this test.