Cheltenham tips: Trainers & jockeys who target the Showcase meeting

These combos are worth following in past form is anything to go by.

Paul Nicholls Nicky Henderson 2018


Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden

Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden have only teamed up nine times in the last five seasons at this meeting but they have managed to win on three of those occasions, notably with Quel Destin in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle 12 months ago.

They also tasted success in the conditional jockeys’ handicap in 2015 and 2016 with Old Guard and Cliffs of Dover. The pair are in electrifying form heading into Friday and Saturday, too, recording 15 wins together already in October.

Nicholls and Cobden have a good chance in the opening race on Friday (1.50pm) with ASK FOR GLORY, who tops Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings. He won a novice hurdle at Wincanton by 23 lengths when last seen in February, looking potentially smart, and seems sure to improve further.

GRAND SANCY could represent the duo in the two-and-a-half-mile novice chase (2.40pm) on Saturday. He showed promise over fences last season and made the most of a good opportunity when making a winning return – following another breathing operation – in a Listed event at Chepstow earlier this month. Grand Sancy had plenty in hand that day and should go well again under a double penalty.

Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville

The most profitable jockey-and-trainer combination to follow at the meeting in the last five years, with a £1 bet on each of their representatives returning £9.25.

The pair might not be going quite as well as Nicholls and Cobden this season, but they have still started strongly and PIPESMOKER, who runs in the two-mile maiden hurdle (4.10pm), looks one of their best chances on Friday.

He showed plenty of ability last season, notably on his hurdling debut in a hot novice on the New Course in December when finishing third to smart stablemate Chantry House. Pipesmoker split a pair of smart sorts in Sporting John and Master Debonair at Ascot on his next start and looks the one to beat on form.


Fergal O’Brien

Fergal O’Brien is usually well represented at this meeting and has tasted plenty of success in the last five years, recording six winners in that period, returning a level-stake profit of £19.62. Champagne Well got the team off to the perfect start 12 months ago when winning the opening novices’ hurdle, while BENNY’S BRIDGE gave O’Brien a treble on the card when winning the closing conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle.

Benny’s Bridge has been declared to defend his crown in Friday’s race (5.15pm) from a 9lb-higher mark. He only ran once again last season, and that came back at Cheltenham in the Greatwood Hurdle the following month. Benny’s Bridge started the 9/2 favourite, but he clearly wasn’t 100 per cent on the day, finishing well beaten, and he could have more to offer this season. Connor Brace is back on board, too.

COOL DESTINATION will also be of interest if taking his chance in the amateur jockeys’ handicap chase (5.00pm) on Saturday. O’Brien won this race in 2016 with Troika Steppes and also 12 months ago with Petite Power, and there is plenty to like about Cool Destination’s chances. He is lightly raced for a seven-year-old, and seemed to excel himself on his chasing debut at Bangor last month, beaten only a nose in second while again impressing with his attitude. An opening mark of 122 looks fair based on that performance and he should have more to offer.

O’Brien also likes to target the bumper which takes place on Saturday (5.35pm), winning it in 2017 and 2018 while having others hit the frame. He has Karl Philippe entered for this year’s renewal, and he looked potentially smart when making a winning start at Hereford last season.

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