Punters looking for some Festival clues from the upcoming batch of Cheltenham races may be best to focus their attentions on the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.
A victory for Uncle Junior off a hefty weight would suggest he will be exceedingly tough to oppose in three months time, but he may not have things all his own way.
1:20 – Falcarragh @ 10/1
Nicky Henderson’s horses have been in improved form of late and Barry Geraghty’s choice to ride Tom Du Lys could be a hint to punters after flopping on his British debut last season.
However, Falcarragh has been largely consistent, never finishing out of the first four over hurdles, and he was doing his best work at the death last time when given a little too much to do at the business end of the race.
This slight step up in trip should also help and he is solid each-way value.
1:55 – Bradley @ 3/1
There are enough doubts over the majority of these to believe Bradley can defy a 5lb hike in the handicap for finishing second at Cheltenham last month.
He still looks at a nice mark and must go close.
It would be a major oversight to ignore Midnight Chase as he absolutely loves Cheltenham, although it will need a career best performance to triumph.
2:30 – Maljimar @ 14/1
Uncle Junior does love Cheltenham and was an impressive winner at the course last month, but based on previous runs, two of the opposition looked weighted to finish ahead of him here.
Outlaw Pete was 16 lengths behind Uncle Junior in the aforementioned race, but re-opposes on 16lb better terms.
However, preference is for Maljimar, who may not have won in Britain since 2008, but has been more regularly seen on the continent of late.
Interestingly, he finished ahead of Uncle Junior at the last Cheltenham Festival and has an 8lb pull in the weights for this contest.
3:05 – Saint Roque @ 6/1
Saint Roque has been allocated the same weight as last time, when he was brought down on his handicap debut when seemingly travelling the best three hurdles from home.
After a disappointing novice season, a breathing operation appears to have had a positive impact and based on his relations, a first try at 3m should also be right up his street.
Sivola De Sivola’s never say die attitude gives him each-way prospects at worst, while At Fishers Cross will be a leading challenger if he can put in a more fluent round of jumping than tends to be the case.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.