Cantlow is prominent in the betting for three of the big handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival, but the Festival Handicap Chase, where he is 12/1, stands out as the one that must be best suited to the horse.
Paul Webber’s eight-year-old has taken the step up to fences in his stride so far this season, placing second on his opening two starts over an inadequate 2m, before winning twice over further.
The latest of these was over 2m4f, when enjoying a comfortable success at Taunton off a mark of 140.
Given manner of this success, it would be no surprise to see Cantlow have his official rating increased by the handicapper and should this happen, he will not be able to enter the Centenary Novices’ Hurdle.
The 2m4f contest is only open to horses rated 0-140 and even if Cantlow stays on his current mark, he will be top weight for this contest.
Hunt Ball did win off top weight last year, but prior to that, no top weight had ever managed to finish in the each-way places.
The other problem for Cantlow since reverting from hurdles to fences is that his jumping has been very patchy, even in races involving few runners.
Jumping may become even tougher in bigger fields and so another climb in trip where the race-pace will be slower must only be a benefit.
Cantlow should have no problem staying 3m as he showed when third at the last Cheltenham Festival in the Pertemps Final and so the Festival Handicap Chase ticks all of the boxes.
Horses aged eight or older have won the last four renewals, while Cantlow would be potentially open to more improvement in comparison to other entrants.
The Byrne Group Plate over 2m5f would be a third option for Cantlow, but it has been dominated by horses officially rated lower than 139 in the past decade.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date