Our experts’ have identified some each-way value in the 2m novices’ chase on Friday’s Cheltenham card. Read on for our betting tips and full race preview.
IN SUMMARY: Baron Alco, a free-going front-runner who did well over hurdles last season will put a few of these under pressure if he can jump fluently over fences. Meanwhile, the other chasing debutant, Aristo Du Plessis, developed into a very useful hurdler last season for a Scotland-based trainer who sends very few runners to Cheltenham. However, there is some each-way value in PRESENTING ARMS, who appears to be more exposed over fences than most of these but travelled with menace for a long way when fitted with first-time cheekpieces for a 2m5f Listed handicap last month and could be seen to even better effect in headgear now dropped back in trip. Marracudja made a pleasing chasing debut at Newton Abbot last month but that form lacks depth and he’s probably too short in the early betting markets.
1 Ridestan – Has won the last two of his four starts over fences, more recently when gamely holding on by a nose to deny Neverushacon in Grade 3 contest at Gowran (2m, yielding) this month; might have more to offer but has to shoulder an 8lb penalty here and could prove vulnerable.
2 Marracudja – Jumped well and made all to win small-field event on last month’s chasing debut at Newton Abbot (2m, good); his main market rival was a shade disappointing that day and he’s likely to face a much tougher examination here, but his second in a Grade 2 novice hurdle in February offers significant hope he’ll be up to the task.
3 Neverushacon – Won a beginners’ chase at Limerick (2m1f, good) in summer and lost out only very narrowly to Ridestan when second in Grade 3 company at Gowran (2m, yielding) recently; 3lb better off with his old rival here but his form is probably below the required standard.
4 Presenting Arms – Only win from eight starts over fences was gained in a three-runner contest but he seemed to respond well to first-time cheekpieces when creditable second in a Listed handicap at Market Rasen (2m5f, good) last month, and the way he travelled that day makes him of interest over this shorter trip and with the headgear retained.
5 Gambling Girl – Produced a good performance to beat the favourite by 14l in three-runner affair at Roscommon (2m, good to firm) in June, her second win over fences, but was soundly beaten behind a couple of today’s rivals at Gowran this month and even her best probably won’t be good enough here.
6 Aristo Du Plessis – Made inauspicious hurdling debut two years ago but has progressed well in that sphere since early 2015 and climbed to a BHA mark of 150 after winning a valuable handicap at Musselburgh (2m, good to soft) in January; switched to fences after 257-day absence but is a rare runner here for the stable and it will be very interesting to see how he fares.
7 Baron Alco – Free-going front-runner who completed a hat-trick in handicap hurdles towards the end of 2015 (2m1f-2m5f) and went close in a Grade 3 handicap at Ascot (2m3f, soft) in January; makes chasing debut after 219-day absence but could be hard to catch if he gets into a good jumping rhythm.
8 Pinkie Brown – Struggled to get competitive in two Flat maidens in August but took well to fences when a clearcut winner at Towcester (2m, good to firm) this month; still has fairly low mileage and is evidently in good heart but today’s assignment is much more demanding.
myracing Forecast Prices: 15/8 Marracudja, 7/2 Aristo Du Plessis, 7/1 Ridestan, Presenting Arms, Baron Alco, 10/1 Neverushacon, 14/1 Pinkie Brown, 16/1 Gambling Girl