A late addition to the ITV4 racing schedule sees a likely full field of decent handicap chasers over this two and a half mile track in a race that has been only seen two winning favourites in the last decade so favourite backers beware. The early prices suggest there is plenty of value to be found and Thomas Crapper (13/2 Each Way) fits the bill sneaking in off bottom weight this afternoon and only having to carry ten stone one. Already a course winner and a distance winner (but not at the same time), he has won a Class Two handicap chase off a rating three pounds higher than he has this afternoon suggesting he is more than capable of another success this afternoon and seems to make him outstanding each way value.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is always under the media spotlight with such high expectations and he has entered the classy if somewhat luckless Saphir Du Rheu (4/1) here as he continues over fences for the time being at least. Last time out he was strongly fancied to win the Hennessy at Newbury before falling at the fourth fence but if that hasn’t shaken his confidence, he has every chance here. Now and eight-year-old, he invariably takes on the very best over fences or hurdles, but hasn’t won in seven races now since beating The Young Master over this trip in a Listed race at Carlisle in November 2015. Rated a full ten pounds higher that day, if he can recapture that form he is thrown in here off a rating of 153, and at his age there is no reason why he cannot come back to his peak granted a clear round which has been his problem in the past.
Alan King won this last year with Annacotty (20/1), the same horse who won in 2015 when in the care of Martin Keighley, and he is back looking for the hat trick this season for a stable very much in form. Seven winners from just the eighteen runners in the past two weeks catches the eye and makes the horse worthy of a place in this race preview. After scoring by a length and a quarter from Tenor Nivernais last season he was put up six pounds and hasn’t even placed in three runs since, pulling up on his seasonal return here at Cheltenham and finishing a thirty-nine length eighth to Regal Encore when failing to see out three miles at Ascot last time. Dropped a pound for that he has just three pounds more in 2017 than he carried last year and with three wins and a second from ten runs around this course, he is worthy of some serious consideration.
Rebecca Curtis keeps threatening to return to top form with her horses but has only has the one winner from eight runners in the last two weeks but will be hoping Shantou Flyer (7/1) can add to that record. He did win last time out over course and distance from the ever reliable Village Vic putting three lengths of daylight between them when asked to win his race and staying on strongly, but he has been put up seven pounds for that victory and giving weight away to some of these will need a career best if he wants to double up this afternoon though his two wins from three starts here at Cheltenham does catch the eye.
Looking for a another lower down in the weights and Walk In The Mill (9/1) has done nothing wrong so far this season and deserves a shot at this valuable prize. Two wins from two races include an easy victory last time after his main challenger fell three out which has seen him put up a hefty twelve pounds but he seems to be improving and could well be another surprise package off a feather weight this afternoon.