Cheltenham Thursday Preview

1.30 Jewson Novices’ Chase – 2 1/2m

David Pipe has thrown the betting market into confusion for this race with the news that he may divert RSA Chase favourite Dynaste to the two and a half mile event. The flying grey will start favourite for whichever race he goes for so the 2-1 with Bet365 (Non-runner No Bet) makes plenty of appeal. In his absence, the Willie Mullins-trained Aupcharlie has the best form on offer and he looks a better bet than Captain Conan who was all out to catch Third Intention at Sandown last time. If the going comes up soft, Benefficient could be over-priced at 16-1 with a run.

2.05 Pertemps Final – 3m

Paul Nicholls supplies the favourite in Sam Winner, successful on the all-weather and lightly-raced since he suffered a serious injury in a fall. If he is back to his best form from his juvenile days then he looks leniently treated but his ability to stay 3 miles has to be taken on trust and 4-1 looks very short. Close House looks to be the pick of David Pipe’s entries and he looks worth supporting at 10-1 with Bet365. He won well at Wincanton in December after a decent effort in a Cheltenham handicap and there could be further improvement to come. Ely Brown won a competitive handicap at Warwick in good style and any rain would help his chances. He makes plenty of appeal at 14-1.

2.40 Ryanair Chase – 2m 5f

Cue Card is set to go off favourite here after his impressive win at Ascot but may find it tougher if forced to make his running here. Mouse Morris has been hoping to persuade the owners to run First Lieutenant in the Gold Cup but he would be an obvious threat if turning out here. Riverside Theatre won this last year but has been out of sorts this season. Recent market support suggests that he has been showing something at home and he could be worth a bet at 5-1 with Bet365. Jonjo O’Neill has not exactly been sounding confident about Albertas Run but the veteran ran a blinder last season and could still reward each-way supporters at 14-1.

3.20 World Hurdle – 3m

This race will have a new staying champion this season after Big Buck’s was taken out through injury. Oscar Whisky was expected to run a big race last year but his effort fizzled out and there have been doubts expressed over his stamina. He got very close to Reve De Sivola in bad ground last time so he should be a leading contender. The interesting one here is former Champion hurdler Peddlers Cross at 9-1 with Bet365. He won the two and a half mile novices’ hurdle at the festival so this trip could be within his compass after an aborted season over fences.

4.00 Byrne Group Plate – 2m 5f

Ballynagour has been all the rage for this race since he bolted up at Warwick. David Pipe’s French import has been raised 21lb for that victory and his jumping will face a stiffer test here. Hunt Ball won at the corresponding meeting and has been tried at longer distances with the Gold Cup in mind. Connections have finally relented and dropped him back to his winning distance here and he looks a fair bet at 6-1 with Bet365. Vino Griego has improved dramatically in his last two races but needs soft ground in his bid for a hat-trick. With conditions coming right for him, he could represent each-way value at 10-1.

5.15 Kim Muir Challenge Cup – 3m 1f

The betting suggests that Donald McCain’s Super Duty is the one to be on here but 5-1 looks short for a horse with limited jumping experience. A number of the leading candidates have multiple entries at the festival but Prince Of Pirates has just this race on his agenda and could be worth a bet at 10-1 with Bet365. He has needed maximum support from AP McCoy on more than one occasion but could be suited by this race. Jonjo O’Neill looks set to run Alfie Sherrin here in preference to the JLT Speciality Chase. He could be worth an each-way bet at 14-1 or better.

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