The ones to watch in the Cheltenham Festival handicaps
While much of the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival understandably centres on the championship races, it’s always wise to keep an eye on the handicaps too.
With 28 races in total there’s plenty of value waiting to be unearthed across the four-day extravaganza.
And we’ve been busy compiling a list of just a few of the names you should watch out for away from the feature contests.
From the Ultima Handicap Chase to the Grand Annual Handicap Chase, we’ve scoured the cards to come up with the following sextet.
Take a look and see if one of these takes your fancy…
Holywell – Ultima Business Handicap Chase (Tuesday)
Holywell loves Cheltenham and we love Holywell.
Granted, Jonjo O’Neill’s charge has hardly been in sparkling form of late but that’s to be expected – he’s the archetypal ‘spring horse’.
The dual Festival winner was a runner-up in this renewal last year and he’s bound to attract plenty of each-way money at Prestbury Park.
Current price: 12/1
Foxtail Hill – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Tuesday)
Tuesday’s lucky last features a very likeable favourite in Foxtail Hill.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has gone on record as saying he’s probably his yard’s best chance of a winner at the Festival and it’s easy to see why.
The eight-year-old gamely held on to the take Grade 3 Hugo’s Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in January, seeing off some smart types in the process.
Current price: 7/1
Tombstone – Coral Cup (Wednesday)
Gordon Elliott has resisted a Champion Hurdle tilt for his talented Tombstone, paving the way for a Coral Cup success.
At least, that’s how we’re hoping it turns out.
He’s got plenty in his favour, having turned over 2014 Champion Hurdler Jezki in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle last time out.
And if handling the step up in trip, the seven-year-old could well see off the threat from the JP McManus-owned horses in the field.
Current price: 9/2
Dinaria Des Obeaux – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Wednesday)
We’re sticking with Elliott here and nailing our colours to the very talented Dinaria Des Obeaux.
Having blundered in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, she bounced back at Fairyhouse last time out.
While she was narrowly touched off, the winner was disqualified and Elliott’s filly was awarded the race to take her record to two from three under Rules.
And that fine form could continue should she get the run she wants in this tightly-matched handicap.
Current price: 12/1
Tobefair – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Thursday)
You can’t help but be drawn in by the fairytale story surrounding Tobefair.
Owned by a tiny syndicate and trained at a small yard in Wales, saddler Debra Hamer and all connections are simply living the dream by having a Festival horse.
And this isn’t just any ordinary contender.
Tobefair has won seven in a row to reach the Final of this series and we reckon he’s got a real chance of bringing up what would be an incredible eight-timer.
Current price: 6/1
Peace and Co – County Hurdle (Friday)
While we’re on the subject of fantastic storylines, Peace and Co could well produce one of his own on the Friday.
Nicky Henderson’s County Hurdle entrant hasn’t been seen since pulling up in the Champion Hurdle last year.
And while he was pencilled in for this Saturday’s Imperial Cup at Sandown, Henderson has instead opted to make this Festival race his next target.
The 2015 Triumph Hurdle winner has done it before over course and distance but a victory here would surely rank as an even more incredible achievement.
Current price: 8/1
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