Paul Nicholls’ charge can make More of That wait for chasing win

A Friday afternoon treat sees Cheltenham welcome patrons for the first day of the Open Meeting, with six opportunities to find a winner or two at Prestbury Park.

Early season punting can be tricky, with some horses delivering first time out, while others will need the run. It does however mean that we can sometimes see a big priced winner or two.

So for Friday’s selections we are looking to oppose the favourites and seek out some value in Gloucestershire.

Here are Ladbrokes News’ picks to grab the glory…

Pearls Legend – 13:05 Paddy Power Handicap Chase

John Spearing’s horse has been keeping some pretty smart company in his previous two runs, first going down by just two lengths in a Grade 3 at Aintree, before returning this term with a decent second in a Listed contest at Ascot.

He tended to jump left that day in Berkshire so going the other way round at Cheltenham looks likely to address that. Clear of the horse in third that day, he could be fairly well treated, only going up 1lb in the handicap.

A reunion with Jamie Moore could eke out even more with the jockey partnering the horse to all four of his career victories, and with stamina assured (he went close over 2m4f last year), should have no problem coping with the questions that the famous hill will throw at him.

As De Mee – 13:40 Steel Plate and Sections Novices’ Chase

The chasing debut of 2014 World Hurdle winner More of That is sure to be hotly anticipated, but based on what we saw of him last time, he still has plenty to prove.

Described as “one to follow over fences” by his trainer, it could be worth siding with Paul Nicholls’ As De Mee. The five-year-old was a Grade 3 winner over timber last year, and made an encouraging chasing debut behind Cocktails at Dawn in a hot contest at Chepstow last month.

The horse back in third that day, Native River, won next time out by 16 lengths, to give the form of the race a nice boost.

His trainer has had plenty of winners lately and it would be no surprise if this one added to his tally at Cheltenham.

If More of That’s breathing operation has worked he will be tough to beat, but we’re not willing to take that chance.

Dogora – 14:50 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase

There’s not a lot between the cross-country regulars these days, but at just six-years-old there is reason to believe that we haven’t seen the best of Willie Mullins’ charge just yet.

The son of Robin Des Pres put in a great performance when upped in trip to face the unique course for the first time at the Festival in March, finishing fourth behind the reopposing Rivage D’Or.

He’s 7lbs better off for that five length beating here and with the ground drying out nicely, looks to have perfect conditions.

The grey came down when beginning to make his move at Punchestown over the banks in April, and could be a solid price for retribution.

Uncle Junior has finished in the first two in this race for Mullins in the past four years, but with that one approaching the twilight of his career, it could be time for a changing of the guard.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.