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CYRNAME will likely go off an odds-on favourite for this as he attempts to follow up his victory in this race in 2019. Cyrname is miles ahead of these rivals on official ratings and is obviously the one they all have got to beat. After a lacklustre end to last season’s campaign, Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old looked to be back to his best as he won the Charlie Hall at Wetherby in tremendous style.
His jumping was faultless that day and he looked primed for a big 2021. But, he followed that up with a huge flop in the King George on Boxing Day. Cyrname never travelled on that occasion and Paul Nicholls has now reached for the first-time cheekpieces.
Harry Cobden has kept the faith with Cyrname and a return to anywhere near his best should be enough here. Expect Cyrname to try and make all, and gallop his rivals into submission. But, Cyrname has had a few expensive flops to his name and punters will be wary about wading in at odds-on again.
Another Nicholls runner who has had his share of thrills and spills is MASTER TOMMYTUCKER. Although he looks the second-string on ratings and jockey bookings, Master Tommytucker would have to have a live chance if his jumping holds up. That, of course, is a big if!
Master Tommytucker had fallen in three of his last four races before he had wind surgery back in June, but he looks to have got his act together since then. He has been successful three times this season, including when taking the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton last time out – where he survived a customary blunder at the last.
Paul Nicholls has said they aren’t going to take Cyrname on up front and that might just work the trick. Master Tommytucker has a great engine and is better in small fields. If Daryl Jacob can get him settled and into a rhythm, he is the obvious danger. Although he is a 10-year-old, Master Tommytucker is still something of a dark horse and it could be his day.
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DASHEL DRASHER would be one of the most popular victories of the entire season if he could pull this off for Jeremy Scott and Matt Griffiths. The eight-year-old kept up his unbeaten run at Ascot when he beat Bennys King and others in a valuable handicap chase.
It was a real gutsy performance and Dashel Drasher is quite entitled to take his chance in what looks a weak renewal. But, he is going to have to find serious improvement if he is going to challenge the two at the top of the betting.
There would also be worries about his propensity to jump left and you’d have to imagine his latest victory could have left a mark on him. So, while it would be a fairytale victory, we rarely get these types of happy endings for the smaller stables on Saturdays when Paul Nicholls is playing a strong hand.
At the prices, BENNYS KING, looks to be a better each-way bet than Dashel Drasher. Although beaten by Dashel Drasher in their most recent run, Bennys King is getting a slight pull in the weights and can keep improving.
Dan Skelton is having a great time of it currently and the yard just keeps finding ways of getting horses like this to improve. Bennys King loves it around Ascot and is quite capable of turning the tables on Dashel Drasher at almost twice his odds. If the top two in the betting have an off day, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Harry Skelton nurse Bannys King around for a place.
Defending champion RIDERS ONTHE STORM will be out to prove that last year’s success in this race was no fluke. Riders Onthe Storm took advantage of his opponents’ mishaps last year to land this race, he was left in front and finished 14 lengths clear of the only other finisher.
Many people had him as a live outsider for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in his next race, but he fell three out when travelling well. This season has not been quite as good.
His most recent defeat was when he was third and 26 lengths behind Master Tommytucker at Kempton. Big question marks remain over his form and it’s difficult to see him getting involved unless Nigel Twiston-Davies has completely rejuvenated him.
The value bet has got to be MASTER TOMMYTUCKER. Although Cyrname is miles ahead on ratings, he has too many short-priced flops to his name. If the top two in the betting both had jumping troubles again, Bennys King could take advantage and creep into a place.
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