Race Time: 2.30pm Meeting: Cheltenham Day: Friday 1st January 2015 Full Race Name: BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle Class Two
Plenty of decent horses and plenty of last time out winners to look through with Singlefarmpayment (8/1) sitting right down the bottom for trainer Tom Lacey with the eye catching jockey booking of Nico De Boinville to ride off of ten stone seven. A six year old son of Milan, he took a while to understand what was expected with one bumper and seven races over hurdles without success before coming good last time out at Southwell when stepped up to this three mile trip, coming clear for a seven length success from Westren Warrior with any amount on hand in that novice event. Somehow, he has been left on exactly the same mark of 125 today which seems remarkably generous of the handicappers, and if we are right and the step up in trip has brought about improvement, he could be very well in this afternoon and a really solid bet.
Eventually, we all have to draw the line with horses we keep following and the David Pipe trained Batavir (12/1) is heading that way for us. After winning at ascot and Wincanton last December the handicapper seems to have got to grips with him as proved with a last of six at Doncaster in February and a mid division finish at Cheltenham on his return, though he did run a better race at Haydock when third to Badari, all be it at a respectable distance. Put down two pounds here, he still looks too high in the ratings to win but should run a decent enough race considering and a place is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Meanwhile, Peter Bowen won this race last year with Rolling Maul and will be looking to follow up that success with Rons Dream (8/1) who arrives here in good form if not necessarily well handicapped. Fifth of thirteen over an inadequate two and a half miles at Chepstow on his return to action in October, he then tried three and a quarter miles here at Cheltenham where he held off Sir Mangan and the other before a staying on second when dropped back to two and a half miles last time out. Put up another three pounds for that run he won’t find this anywhere near as easy, but he is back to what looks like his best trip and clearly likes it around here, making him a place possibility at the very least.
Czech jockey Jan Faltejsek will be looking for a big run from Knockara Beau (33/1) who hasn’t won since January 2014, but that was around here over this trip in what looked like a better race where he saw off At Fishers Cross a short head, and if he can repeat that, he has to be involved in the finish here off a mark a full four pounds lower today.
Lastly, we do like the each way profile of Dan Emmett (10/1) who looks to be on the way up unlike plenty of the runners here. Trained by Michael Scudamore, the five year old has only tried this sort of marathon trip on three occasions, finishing second at both Ludlow and Warwick before winning last time out at Chepstow on heavy ground. He held them all pretty gamely that day showing guts as well as stamina, but a seven pounds weight rise seems pretty harsh, and ought to stop his winning chances today, though a place is still a possibility.