14:05 Cheltenham: Get on the Martin bandwagon with Ted Veale
Trainer Tony Martin doesn’t often have too many gambles in handicaps, but when the money does come it often pays to jump on board and so Ted Veale looks a good thing in the County Hurdle at 10/1.
A decade ago, the support of Xenophon saw him sent off favourite and the gamble duly landed, while Dun Doire was well backed for the contest that is now the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase in 2006 and came through for victory.
In terms of the County Hurdle, Psycho had every chance in 2008 before finishing second and it is a recurring theme for Martin’s horses to be ridden patiently before gradually creeping into contention.
Ted Veale ran off 130 on his handicap debut when finishing third and can be expected to improve for this run. A 4lb hike in the weights seems fair and the better ground at Cheltenham should assist his chances.
Interestingly, all of the last seven County Hurdle winners were rated somewhere in the 130s, while the Irish have secured victory in five of the last six years from a fairly small pool of entrants.
Furthermore, his defeat at Leopardstown was in a race that has been a good guide for the County Hurdle in the past, with Thousand Stars and Final Approach both taking in this contest en route to winning the Festival handicap.
Cotton Mill is certain to go off favourite at 7/1 and the fact that he was being seriously considered for a run in the Champion Hurdle suggests connections believe he is capable of running superior to his current mark of 150.
However, those towards the top of the weights do have a poor record in this race.
Ranjaan is also worthy of each-way consideration at 14/1, given that Ruby Walsh has won the County Hurdle four times in nine years and five-year-old entrants have been responsible for eight of the last 14 winners, despite providing only approximately 20 per cent of the runners in this period.
Meanwhile, punters struggling to make a firm decision on the Cheltenham Gold Cup may want to pick a horse at random with this roulette wheel.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.