Astracad to make his course experience count at Cheltenham

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Cheltenham’s Open Meeting may have the delights of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Greatwood Hurdle to solve, but first we must turn our attention to other matters at the Gloucestershire track.

After last weekend’s fairly successful tips we swing into action at Prestbury Park full of confidence of bagging a winner or two.

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Here’s who we fancy on Friday…

Astracad – Cheltenham 13:50

We start off with a more speculative selection, with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge running some big races up the Cheltenham hill in the past.

He was third in a handicap off a 5lb higher mark over course and distance last December, and had subsequent Grade 3 winner Parsnip Pete in behind him that time.

He’s now 1lb lower than his last winning handicap mark, incidentally at Cheltenham, and will be primed after a steady pipe-opener here last month. An assault on the places looks well within his reach.

Dell’ Arca – Cheltenham 14:25

David Pipe sure knows how to get the ready for this race, sending out both Grands Crus and Dynaste to take the prize on chase debut in the last three years.

His representative this time won the Greatwood Hurdle at this meeting last year, so gets on well with the course.

The five-year-old was held by the reopposing Splash of Ginge in the Betfair Hurdle last year, but meets him on 7lbs better terms, for a 1 3/4l beating and should have enough to turn the tables.

Perennial bottle job Colour Squadron is likely to head the betting, but his reputation goes before him and we are taking him on.

Balthazar King – Cheltenham 15:35

Philip Hobbs’ 10-year-old has certainly lived up to the second part of his name in cross country races of late.

He’s won four out of the five contests over the unique fences that he has encountered in the in the last 12 months, and fell when travelling strongly in the other.

Throw in a second place finish in the Grand National, and he really is flourishing now he’s reached double figures.

Aiming to retain his crown of last year, he meets three horses he beat that time, and is joined by four others that, frankly, don’t look likely to have the quality to trouble him in a repeat bid.

 

All odds and markets 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.