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Cheltenham 2023 Festival Preview – Pertemps Handicap Final (Daryl Carter)

Every day of February our top tipsters Andrew Mount and Daryl Carter will be previewing a race of the Cheltenham Festival 2023. Visit GG each day for a new preview from our top analysts.

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2.10pm Thursday 16th March – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

The Pertemps Final is a Grade Three National Hunt hurdle race at the Cheltenham Festival open to horses aged five years or older. It is run on the New Course over a distance of about 3 miles, and there are twelve hurdles to be jumped. It is a handicap race.

A different look to the race this year, with the qualifying places reduced from six to four, so the old adage and stat of Pertemps Qualifier winners having a poor record (2-21) in the final should be taken with a pinch of salt.  


SHOOT FIRST

Shoot First has kept his powder dry since scoring at the Cheltenham Open meeting in October with the plan to come directly to the Pertemps Final. He really is hard to pick holes in, especially as his trainer Charles Burns is a very shrewd operator and exceptional when it comes to getting one ready after a break. This horse is completely unexposed and won in October with plenty in hand over Botox Has, who advertised the form well in his next couple of starts. An eight pounds rise looks more than manageable on that evidence.

The only concern would be that he hung to the left, but he was very impressive and is the right market leader.

PERCEVAL LEGALLOIS

Finished ahead of Shoot First at Listowell, but that simply can’t of been the true running of the Burns horse. Perceval Legallois is the one that will be significantly over-bet in this market after winning at the Dublin Racing Festival. Still, it was such a slowly run affair it’s hard to take that form seriously, and he was better positioned than most, and with the combination of recency bias, he is one I advise avoiding.

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MAXXUM

Maxxum disappointed at the Dublin Racing Festival despite money coming for him on the Betfair Exchange. Still, his racing position was always going to see him in trouble when tucked away on the inside rail, and his inexperienced jockey probably didn’t help matters. He was given an easy time once his chance had gone, and a repeat of his Xmas performance would see him take a world of beating in this off of a British rating of 145.

He left the impression at Dublin as though there was more to come.

SALVADOR ZIGGY

Salvador Ziggy put in a tremendous weight-carrying performance at Cheltenham in October but found the well-treated Shoot First too strong on the run-in. He sits on a mark of 145 which at this time would suggest he is weighted to the hilt. However, he may have bumped into a winner that was thrown in this day and on slightly better terms, could have a sterner say in the finish. It’s hard to pick through his form and claim he has much in hand, and he is yet to prove a stiff 3m is what he wants.

He has likeable claims and is sure to give his running but may find one or two better treated. 

THE BOSSES OSCAR

We have been here before with The Bosses Oscar, and he is yet to prove he is well handicapped, so his prominent position in the market makes little sense to me. He sits on a rating of 142 in Ireland, so possibly 146 in the UK if the Handicapper is feeling generous, which would be six pounds lower than his second-place finish in 2021, but he has failed to progress since then, and surely there’s something better treated even in his own yard let alone this contest.

CAPTAIN MORGS

Nicky Henderson’s horses generally run very well at the Cheltenham Festival, and Captain Morgs still looks very fairly treated on the balance of his form. He went up seven pounds for his Cheltenham romp in December, which came in first-time cheek-pieces and was his first attempt at three miles.

That form was given a small boost at Newbury recently by the third, and he ticks a lot of boxes being a progressive unexposed stayer for a powerhouse stable. If the headgear continues to work, he will have a big shout.

SHEWEARSITWELL

Shewearsitwell has qualified for this race but did so in a terribly slowly run affair, and I’d be shocked if three miles is what she wants. Non-stayer.

WALKING ON AIR

Walking On Air got his act together when scoring at Kempton in the qualifier for this on February 12th, but he made hard work of it at the finish, idling close home. The level of his form is miles off what will be required to win this race, but he has untapped potential. It will be interesting if Henderson applies some headgear to him. Short enough in the betting.

GREEN BOOK

Green Book backed up in the Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown to again qualify for this contest, but his heavy defeat in last year’s poor renewal of the Albert Bartlett suggests there is a limit to what he can achieve in this sphere. It’s hard to suggest he is thrown in off of this new rating of 139. Little chance.

BOTOX HAS

His form has taken a turn for the worst during the second half of the season, and it’s identical to last year. He looks one to catch fresh in October/November and then to avoid for the remainder of the term. He is not well-handicapped off of 149.

AN TAILLIUR

An Tailliur was behind Botox Has and Shoot First in October and hasn’t been seen since. He left the impression that there is unfinished business in this sphere. He will relish a likely frantic gallop and looks placepot material. Whether he will match the best of the Irish remains to be seen, but he is fairly treated off this rating of 139 and shouldn’t be easily discounted.

Summary

Lots of these in the betting market are rated very lowly, and last year 134 was the bottom weight. I can easily see that threshold being lower this time around, but it may also mean that those classier and well-handicapped horses towards the top of the weights have an easier time of things.

There’s no Third Wind in here this time around who was dropping in grade from Stayer’s Hurdle company; many of these are exposed. It will pay to side with those towards the top of the market. Shoot First is certainly on the radar, along with Maxxum and Captain Morgs. I am yet to decide which one I want to play, hell I might play all three, but Maxxum did an excellent figure at Christmas compared to the graded contest on the card, and I am willing to forgive his Xmas defeat.