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The Kim Muir Challenge Cup is an extremely competitive Class 2 handicap chase over three miles and two furlongs which takes place on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. It takes a real gritty stayer to win this race and that horse last year was the Stuart Edmunds trained Domesday Book ridden by Gina Andrews. There are as always key trends and stats which can help us find the winner and we’ll look at those below. You can also check out our Kim Muir Challenge Cup tips here.
Mall Dini ✅✅✅✅✅
Sugar Baron ✅❌❌✅✅
Missed Approach ✅❌✅✅✅
The ‘big two’ in the market once again this year are Squouateur and Mall Dini and they tick every box when it comes to the trends. Based off their runs this season it wouldn’t be an overly controversial statement to say that this has been the obvious end goal for Mall Dini whereas Squouateur has been ready on other days without delivering but as the market suggest they are hard to split.
Squouateur and Mall Dini were sent off first and second favourites for this race last year at 5/1 and 11/2 respectably and the antepost market paints a similar picture this year. The former, owned by JP McManus and trained by Gordon Elliott has been the subject of numerous gambles in all the top handicaps over the past year and more and it looks likely that at some stage he will reward his many supporters. He was backed all the way into 4/1 for the Paddy Power Chase won by Anibale Fly and everything about his run suggested he was a well handicapped horse, he was ridden very quietly out the back and made plenty of jumping errors before running on powerfully to finish a never nearer third, which suggests this trip should be right up his street though he unseated in this last year and wouldn’t be one to trust. Mall Dini is trained by the brilliant Pat Kelly who won the Pertemps two years running with this horse and then Presenting Percy last year. He was aimed at the Kim Muir last year and had a nightmare run included getting hampered before finishing with a wet sail into fifth. This will have been the plan since that rather unexpected and disappointing defeat and he seems to come alive at Cheltenham on decent ground, he will no doubt have plenty of supporters but understandably so and he’ll likely go close.
Previous Festival form is always something to consider heavily and Charlie Longsdon’s Pendra who hasn’t been out of the first five in his last three appearances at Prestbury Park in March and those performances include a three quarter length defeat in this race last year. He goes very well fresh and was coming off an absence of 341 days last year, he hasn’t raced since and has been left on the same mark as when being nabbed late on in the contest a year ago so has to come into consideration despite being a year older as this has clearly been a long term plan.
It takes a dour stayer to win over three miles and two furlongs at Cheltenham and a horse that falls into that category perfectly is the Nicky Henderson trained Sugar Baron who went into plenty of notebooks when flying home to be beaten under a length in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham in November having been scrubbed along in the last pair with just a couple of fences to jump. He isn’t an easy ride and proved that when again flying home to finish second, this time beaten a neck, in the London National at Sandown off two pounds lower than the mark he will be racing off here. He looks a horse who will enjoy a strong pace and when plenty of these are crying enough up the hill you can guarantee he’ll be staying on, whether he gets there in time is a separate issue.
Rebecca Curtis, through no fault of her own had plenty of problems with her string over the past year and horses leaving her yard have more often than not improved for the switch and that makes Bigbadjohn interesting. He is a classy horse as he showed when wearing down Flintham to win the Reynoldstown last year at Ascot and although things haven’t gone right since then, he looked right back to form on his stable debut for Nigel Twiston-Davies. He stayed on determinedly to deny Brandon Hill at Kempton, you only have to look back to October last year to see that he was rated 144 and even after winning last time out he only finds himself on a mark of 138 which makes him an interesting proposition at a big price.
Another horse who is often well backed for big handicaps but has failed to deliver just yet is the Warren Greatrex trained Missed Approach who was smashed in the betting for the Classic Chase at Warwick when third behind Milansbar and was similarly well backed when finishing a respectable enough second in the Edinburgh National last time out. He likes it at the Festival and proved that when a clear second behind the remarkable Tiger Roll in the National Hunt Chase and has been left alone by the handicapper despite running well twice consecutively, he should go well if his jumping holds up.
Only a few days to go until the Festival and you can view all our antepost previews and tips on our Cheltenham Festival tips section now!