14:40 Cheltenham – Tullamore Dew has rating to win first handicap
Alan King has enjoyed a fine run in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase in recent seasons, but Tullamore Dew at 10/1 in the Cheltenham odds can ensure that Hold On Julio is unable to extend this record.
King has trained two of the last seven winners in the first of the 11 handicaps across the Cheltenham Festival, while he has also saddled a third-place finisher and Bensalem, who fell at the final fence in 2010 when having the race at his mercy.
This year King’s leading chance is Hold On Julio at 13/2, who has won on both starts since moving to the yard and stayed on stoutly at Sandown in January to beat Neptune Collonges.
However, from creeping in at the foot of the weights then, he is much nearer the top of the handicap at Cheltenham and the added weight could put extra pressure on his already suspect jumping.
Interestingly, all of the last four winners of the race have begun with an official rating of 142 or 143, which trims the field to just two runners this year.
One of which is Mossley, who was really disappointing on his latest start at Newbury and therefore has plenty to prove.
The other is Tullamore Dew, who despite never having won a handicap over fences or hurdles, must arrive with big claims.
He seemed to relish a step up in trip last time out and will certainly not be found wanting if a gruelling finish takes place over the closing fences.
Tullamore Dew’s chances are additionally added by the fact that nine of the last 11 winners of the JLT Speciality Handicap have come from the first four in the Cheltenham betting.
The Package is the other joint favourite with Hold On Julio and must enter considerations after slipping to an attractive mark and his lowest since 2009.
Of those at bigger prices, Fruity O’Rooney has not been penalised by the handicapper for running with credit in the Sky Bet Chase and a repeat of that performance would make him overpriced at 14/1.