RACING

Cheltenham Festival: Five of the best Gloucestershire chances

We have a brief look at some of Gloucestershire’s best chances for a winner at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Singlefarmpayment – Ultima Handicap Chase (10/1)

Tom George’s experienced handicapper Singlefarmpayment was denied by the smallest of margins last season, and bids to avenge his head defeat in his second visit to the Festival. Since his defeat to Un Temps Pour Tout he ran creditably in Cheltenham in the Showcase, before falling in the Ladbroke Trophy. He ran okay when fifth at Ascot, but struggled when upped in Grade on Trials day. He is only rated 3lb higher than at this point in the season last year, and could run another big race here.

 

Barney Dwan –  Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (10/1)

Fergal O’Brien is one of racing’s most popular trainers, and he is enjoying a fantastic season so far this year. After two straight victories at Market Rasen, and earlier this month at Musselburgh, he looks to have a leading chance in the big novice handicap. The form of that five length win in Scotland has worked out very well and he has been allocated a low riding weight for the contest. He ran very well when second in the Pertemps in the Festival last year, and could go one better this time around.

 

Cap Soleil – Mares Novice Hurdle (12/1)

Another big chance for Fergal O’Brien is Cap Soleil, an exciting young mare. She landed a first Grade One winner with Poetic Rhythm in the Challow, before taking Ascot’s big handicap this weekend with Master Dee. Cap Soleil, having only suffered one defeat this year, was a listed winner at Haydock on her last start and will need to improved further but her strike rate is very impressive.

 

The Last Samuri – Cross Country (6/1)

The Last Samuri has options for both the Gold Cup and Cross Country, but is expected to go for the latter. Trainer Kim Bailey rates this horse very highly, and the former Grand National runner-up has been in good form so far this season. He was no match for well-fancied National favourite Blaklion in the Topham Chase, but his second place finish was encouraging. He ran very well when fourth in the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, and the longer trip will suit him much better and he should handle the extreme test which is the Cross Country.

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Racing royalty Jonjo O’Neill is based in Jackdaws Castle, on the outskirts of Cheltenham

Forza Milan – Pertemps Network Final (12/1)

Jonjo O’Neill is a master at placing horses in the right races and he could have found a perfect race for this lightly-raced prospect. Forza Milan has run respectably in his last two starts, finishing a runner-up at Aintree and Newbury. The form of that race has worked out quite well, and he is still an improving type. He has one victory to his name, having won at Chepstow on soft ground and the race conditions are likely to be very similar at Cheltenham. This is a tough race for him, but he is certainly going the right way.

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