Cheltenham Friday Preview

1.30 Triumph Hurdle – 2m 1f

This looks like a well above average renewal of the four-year-old championship race with three strongly fancied contenders. Far West has improved with each race this season and beat a useful novice in River Mague last time. Paul Nicholls rates him very highly and he rates the best bet at 7-2 with Bet365. Nicky Henderson is always strongly represented in this race and Rolling Star was impressive when winning here in heavy ground in January. The leading Irish hope is Our Conor who won well at Leopardstown last month from the well regarded Diakali.

2.05 County Hurdle – 2m

Cotton Mill has an obvious chance on the strength of his fine second in the competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. The soft ground won’t inconvenience him as he is a proven winner over 2 ½ miles although he could find himself shouldering top weight. Mr Watson landed a gamble in good style last time out and could be good enough to defy a penalty here. The 11-1 with Bet365 (NR no bet) looks worth a bet. There has also been plenty of confidence behind Tennis Cap who holds entries in this and the Coral Cup.

2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – 3m

Trainer Rebecca Curtis has been praying for rain for At Fishers Cross and it now looks almost certain that he will get his ideal conditions. He has improved through handicap company to beat The New One here in heavy ground last time and looks a good bet at 4-1 with Bet365. African Gold has the form of his Doncaster victory boosted by the runner-up Close Touch at Sandown but there must be slight concerns over the Twiston-Davies runners following news of a bug in the stable.

3.20 Cheltenham Gold Cup – 3m 2f

Bobs Worth has been favourite for this race since winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November but trainer Nicky Henderson has not managed to get another race into him. Stable companion Long Run won the Gold Cup in 2011 and was third last year. He struggled to defeat Captain Chris at Kempton and is wearing cheekpieces for the first time in an effort to sharpen him up. Paul Nicholls has been unusually confident about the chances of Silviniaco Conti but the selection is the leading Irish challenger Sir Des Champs. He has experience over these fences and has had an uninterrupted preparation and looks a fair bet at 7-2 with Bet365. First Lieutenant would have each-way claims if running here in preference to the shorter Ryanair and Cape Tribulation also has place chances at 14-1.

4.00 Foxhunter Chase – 3m 2f

Salsify looks set to go off favourite here as he bids to repeat last year’s victory. He got the better of Chapoturgeon last year but could struggle to confirm the form and the Barber horse looks better value at 4-1. Backstage needed the run when scrambling home recently but still holds a Grand National entry so is clearly held in some regard. He could be worth an each-way bet at 8-1 with Bet365.

4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle – 2m 4f

David Pipe looks set to rely on the promising novice Chevrey Chambertin from a stack of entries in this event. He rates the gelding as good enough to finish close up in the Neptune so he looks likely to go off a strong favourite here. He is currently 4-1 with Bet365. The progressive Thunderstorm was taken out of the Imperial Cup to run here so could be each-way value at 12-1.

5.15 Grand Annual Handicap Chase – 2m 1/2f

The market is dominated by two improving sorts in Alderwood and Ulck Du Lin. Alderwood (6-1) won the County Hurdle last year and looks to have transferred his ability to the larger obstacles. Ulck Du Lin landed a big gamble at Newbury before defying a 10lb rise at Ascot. He jumps well for a five-year-old and looks a good bet at 8-1 with Bet365.

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