3.25pm Cheltenham Tips & Betting Preview 13/11/2015

Race Time: 3.25pm MeetingCheltenham Day: Friday 13th November 2015
Distance2m 87yds  Full Race NameOpus Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Class Three

Not only a novice hurdle (so generally inexperienced horses) but a handicap as well, so not the easiest to work on but good fun and a challenge nonetheless. Interestingly, four year olds hold sway in recent years with six of the last ten pretty much babies in hurdling terms, but they seem to do well here and although the stats may not be accurate barometers of who will win this year, they are facts regardless and need building in to our assessments. David Pipe seemed to be pretty keen on winning this year with three early entries pared down to top weight Baraka De Thaix (12/1) who will be ridden today by Daryl Jacob. One bumper win and three losing ones over hurdles hardly seems to justify a rating of 125 to us, even if they were in decent enough races, and returning after eight months off we have to feel that carrying eleven stone twelve might just be asking a bit too much of the son of Dom Alco.

In form trainer John Ferguson won the race last season with Chesterfield and will be looking to repeat those efforts in 2015 with Galizzi (11/1) who could hardly have been more impressive last time out at Perth when quickening away for a twenty-two length success, but that was a maiden hurdle and his handicap rating today of 125 hardly looks generous.  The runner up was beaten even further next time out (by Galizzi’s stable mate, funnily enough), so the form doesn’t add up to all that, but he really did catch they eye we admit, and if the ground dries out a little he could yet surprise despite his inexperience.

The one horse out of this ultra competitive field that really catchers the eye just has to be the Tony Martin trained Dollar And A Dream (7/2),  with the booking of Ruby Walsh to ride an absolute stand out. Everyone is quite aware that connections like a bet when they feel the opportunity arises, and we will be watching the market all morning ahead of this race as it smells of an off course gamble, though what about the chances of the horse? In 2015 the six year old has raced five times and been sent off favourite four times, winning one of them at Galway and running well in fourth last time out, beaten just a length and quarter after being brought far too wide and losing momentum when pecking on landing two out. He looked a bit unlucky that day and has still been put up in the weights for his sins, but the change of jockey here suggests they may expect more, and he looks a solid chance in our book

Looking at other ages, and with the Hobbs yard starting well as always (such an underrated trainer sometimes), a closer look at Ink Master (10/1) seems worthwhile, and he is yet another entry who won last time out, making him difficult to assess. His handicap win at Worcester was a bolt out of the blue after four previous contests over obstacles had seen a seventeen lengths fourth as perhaps his best performance, but someone knew something ahead of his return as he was sent off the 2/1 favourite and bolted up by eleven lengths. Put up by ten pounds for that, which seems pretty harsh for a pretty poor looking contest, he wont find life as easy today, but then again the stable are in form and Richard Johnson will ride so all things are possible.

Lastly, its that man Nicholls again and he looks likely to send the very talented Mon Successeur (11/1), a multiple winner over hurdles in the French provinces and sent chasing on his first start over here when a very respectable second to Katachenko at Wetherby. If they decide to send him back over hurdles today that would most certainly be an interesting move as we know he has plenty of ability in that sphere, and if they sallow him to bowl along in front as we hope, he may well take an awful lot of catching this afternoon with Sam Twiston-Davies expected to ride.

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