2.50pm Cheltenham Tips & Betting Preview 13/11/2015

Race Time2.50pm MeetingCheltenham Day: Friday 13th November
Distance: 3m 6f 37yds Full Race NameGlenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase Class Two

Many see this as a bit of a novelty event being raced on a totally different course to any other races at Cheltenham as they weave their way across the middle of the track, but it is popular with the race goers (not the traditionalists but the rest!), and anything that attracts new fans to the sport we all know and love can only be a good thing in our book!  In years past this sort of race was farmed by the Irish raiders invariably headed by Enda Bolger and Nina Carberry, but with prize money of £25,000 the British trainers eventually caught on and possibly the tide has turned. Although nothing comes with a guarantee in this game, the strange fences and course configuration do suggest course (and possibly distance) winners have a stand out advantage, so common sense suggest we start there and see where that leads us. Uncle Junior (10/1) is the highest rated course and distance winner in the field and if we have it correct, he does look as if he has been saved to go after this valuable prize today. A winner when last seen at Punchestown back in April in what many see as their equivalent, he stays for ever and a day and loves bowling along round here ears pricked, and if they have him fit enough to go (and they have the facilities at home to do so), then a handicap rating of 149 is actually three pounds lower than when he last won here and is certainly not likely to be enough to stop him.

Tony Martin has solid claims to win this for the Irish with Rivage D’Or (8/1) and has a serious chance on a good day. He won the big Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March on what as clearly very much a going day. That proved his love for the stamina test, which as mentioned above is vital, and as we all know course winning form at Cheltenham is worth it’s weight in gold, especially at the Festival! It may well be that he needs this course to bring him alive as opposed to the more “boring” regulation fences, and although he has a higher rating here than elsewhere, he had so much in hand last time that we can forgive him that and still see him as having a great chance.

Meanwhile, Champion Court (16/1) has already had a good season with three wins in a row at Kempton, Worcester, and Uttoxeter (so much for his reputation as a Cheltenham specialist), before he finished eighth last time out here on the “normal” course, fading late on over three miles and a furlong. His stamina has to be seen as an issue over this marathon trip but the fences can allow horses to switch off early on, and although he has top weight we wish owner Mr Boothright and trainer Martin Keighley who make a good team and deserve any successes that come their way.

Philip Hobbs does quite well historically in this sort of race and it looks like he will be relying on Allthekingshorses (28/1) here which seems a strange choice. The nine year old does stay as proved with a win over three miles five furlongs at Warwick three races ago, but his overall win record of two from fifteen over fences isn’t the sort of profile we like to see when parting with our money. However, his astute trainer will have left no stone unturned to prepare him for today, and with Champion jockey elect Richard Johnson expected to ride, he could be a big priced each way option for some.

To round things off, Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has only entered the one horse with Sire Collonges (10/1) looking to recapture his best form after a period in the doldrums. He may not have won since 2013 but has run some good races in defeat even if he was pulled up at Auteuil when last seen back in April. One thing he does have is stamina in abundance, and despite pulling up three times he hasn’t ever fallen over fences in fifteen starts though all that means is he will probably get round – not necessarily in the first three.

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