With the recent biblical proportions of rain, the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Saturday 2.25), looks like it will prove a real slog in the mud and to that effect US AND THEM fits the bill.
Although the six-year-old has only won one of his nine starts over the larger obstacles he has been set some pretty tough tasks by his handler in that time.
His best run came in defeat when the youngster ran Ornua to a length and three quarters in the Grade One Maghull Novices Chase at the Aintree Festival.
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On a par with his other chases he fenced superbly and travelled strongly that afternoon only to be outpaced at the back end of that contest. To my eyes he has been crying out for a step up in trip and off a rating of 152 he looks destined to play a major role granted a clear passage and the run of the race.
The selection looked pretty rusty on his comeback run in the Grade Two PWC Chase at Gowran Park, but ran well in the circumstances finishing six and three quarter lengths off the classy Snow Falcon. That was merely a warm up race to bring him on for this valuable affair and he gets the nod over the likes of the recent gamble Slate House, Highway One O One and the mud loving 2017 Caspian Caviar winner Guitar Pete.
The Cheltenham executive have done well to save a couple of races from Friday with the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle kicking off the Saturday card at 12.05.
I K BRUNEL is bred to appreciate a distance of ground being by Midnight Legend and the further he went the better he looked when he broke his hurdling duck at the third time of asking at Fontwell Park.
I think he will be a decent price as well lining up against the likes of Thyme Hill and Happygolucky.
It has taken a while for Evan Williams to find the key to TREASURE DILLON (Intermediate Handicap Hurdle, Saturday 3.30) and following a fluent victory on his final start of the 2018/19 season, he returned with a career best effort last time out when third of 17 to Duke Street over the course and distance last month.
However, this softer surface will place a bigger emphasis on stamina.
This race looks made to measure off exactly the same rating.
Only 1lb higher than when making most of the running in last year’s renewal, KINGSWELL THEATRE could well repeat the dose in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (Sunday, 1.15).
Michael Scudamore’s charge had a nice run under his belt when finishing fifth in the Durham National at Sedgefield last month off a 2lbs higher mark and that run should have put him straight for this defence of his title.
The other big betting race of the meeting is the Greatwood Hurdle (3.00 Sunday) and despite the recent gambles on Benny’s Bridge and the Skelton’s Humble Hero I am rather sweet on the claims of MONSIEUR LECOQ under the care of Jane Williams.
Three from nine in his hurdling career to date, he needed the run when holding the renewed challenge of Le Prezien by a short head in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.
A 7lbs penalty makes things harder here, but the weather forecast could help us out with further showers expected on Sunday on top of the deluge the Prestbury Park track received on Thursday. This still unexposed sort will relish the final climb up the Prestbury Park hill and anything around the 8/1 mark would be a solid each-way investment.
- I K Brunel – Saturday 12:05
- Us And Them – Saturday 14:25
- Treasure Dillon – Saturday 15:30
- Kingswell Theatre – Sunday 13:15
- Monsieur Lecoq – Sunday 15:00
*Prices and entries correct at time of publication. Subject to change.Giddy up for Cheltenham with PaddyPower.com