The entries for the Cheltenham Festival handicaps have been released. As a punter, the handicaps are a real puzzle and often trying to find the winner of these races is the most fun part of the week. Adrian Wall and Matt Newman have come up with their four handicap ante post tips. These are non runner no bet so if the horse does not take part in the race, you will get your money back.
Well touted up at the start of the season as a novice with Grade 1 potential, it’s possible connections will still aim for the Ballymore. With a handicap mark of 134, however, I can’t believe they would pass up a handicap opportunity. He stepped up in trip to run second to Hillcrest at this track which is strong form and looking further back, he beat My Drogo in a Cheltenham bumper. Nicky Henderson has an excellent record in this race, winning three of the last eight. He also had the second last year who, like I Am Maximus, arrived after just three hurdles starts. – Matt Newman
Things have not gone right after a tumble on his chase debut this season. He was travelling far better than Does He Know that day when coming down three out. He’d be ten pounds better off with that rival in this handicap and Does He Know is the ante-post favourite. Runner-up in the Albert Bartlett last season, he was then third to Ahoy Senor at Aintree so the spring might be the time to catch him. He has finished his races off weakly since that fall but Colin Tizzard is a master when it comes to adding headgear at the right time and nine of the last ten winners of the Ultima have sported some sort of aid. Look out for an addition in March. – Matt Newman
Ran no race at the Dublin Racing Festival behind A Wave Of The Sea but in general has a very good record at Leopardstown. That bodes well that he tends to go well there as it’s similar in nature to Cheltenham, left-handed with a stiff uphill finish to the winning post. He is a Grade 3 winner over fences and is likely to race from a very nice weight. – Adrian Wall
Totally outclassed in the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival but his best form is over two and a half miles so I think connections will aim him at this race. He has entries for two Grade 1 races but I can’t see him going for either so they’ll surely go for this handicap. He beat The Bosses Oscar by 13 lengths at Listowel over 2m6f last September and won twice over 2m4f since then before finishing second to Ciel De Neige at Navan in December. That horse is an Arkle contender now. – Adrian Wall
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