Gordon Elliott has held a stranglehold on the National Hunt Chase in recent seasons courtesy of victories for Tiger Roll, Cause Of Causes and Chicago Grey and in Jury Duty and Mossback he holds two excellent chances of improving that record.
However, the home contingent are also worth seriously considering with SIZING TENNESSEE (Cheltenham, 4.50), partnered by the excellent Barry O’Neill, narrowly preferred to relentless galloper Duel At Dawn. Six lengths separated the pair when they met here over three miles before Christmas and the selection has gone on to run creditably behind Mister Whitaker on Trials Day here in January.
Duel At Dawn has been subsequently beaten by Ms Parfois at Warwick, but this war of attrition will suit and a return to a stiffer track could see him post a career best. Those firms offering four places look well worth accommodating and I will be playing both given the speed figure they recorded that day.
MISTER WHITAKER (Cheltenham, 5.30) sits at the foot of the handicap for the closing novices’ handicap chase after somehow managing to sneak into this race.
Initially, it looked like the six-year-old was too well handicapped for this event as he required a host of horses to come out to get a run, but he could prove a huge threat to all now he has made the line up.
His defeat of the admirable mare Theatre Territory on Trials Day was achieved in cosy fashion as he pulled himself up when he hit the front so his style of racing should be well suited to Brian Hughes whose quiet style in the saddle should be a perfect fit.
Novices and second season chasers have won 14 renewals of the Ultima Handicap this century so COO STAR SIVOLA (Cheltenham, 2.50) makes plenty of appeal on the back of a facile Exeter warm up.
Trainer Nick Williams has had this race in mind all season for last year’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle-fourth who has accrued plenty of experience of the Cheltenham fences courtesy of some solid performances in decent novice chases at today’s venue this season. The step up to three miles appeared to induce further improvement and he remains pleasingly handicapped.
Read Sam Turner's tips every day in the Daily Mail or at www.dailymail.co.uk/racing
This article is sponsored by our good friends at Paddy Power. Join here and Bet £10 Get £30
Conditions: New customers only, place a €10 bet on any Sportsbook market - min stake €10 at odds of at least 1.5 (1/2) — and we’ll give you€30 in free bets. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. Free bets are valid for 30 days and must be used on a Sportsbook market. Free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled. T&Cs apply. MBS: Applies to bets on the first day of Cheltenham only. Applies to the win part of each-way singles only. Max free bet €10 per customer. T&Cs apply