Cheltenham tips: Mick Fitzgerald’s 6 best bets for Friday’s card

It's day one of the three-day fiesta and here's Mick Fitz with some Cheltenham tips.

Mick Fitz Chelt

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The Paddy Power November meeting is always a fantastic three days of racing with lots of horses winning now and putting themselves in the frame for the big races at the Festival next March.

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13:10 Art Approval

Paul Nicholls has his team in good heart, and he will be hoping that the lightly-raced Skatman can follow up his Newton Abbot win over 2m 1f and the step up in trip should be no problem to this former point-to-point winner. Lorcan Williams is one of the most experienced riders in the field, but gets to claim 3lbs and he is riding for his own stable in this conditional jockeys’ race.

Another experienced rider is Liam Harrison who is onboard ART APPROVAL. He had a comeback run here three weeks ago when fourth to Guard Your Dreams over 2m 3f. Fergal O’Brien’s runner should now be spot on for this 2m 5f contest.

13:45 Editeur Du Gite

EDITEUR DU GITE was a very impressive winner at Newbury and Aintree last season, and was putting in a decent shift at Ascot last month until he unseated his rider at the last fence. He jumped left-handed at Ascot, so Cheltenham should suit. He looks to be fairly handicapped still with good conditional jockey Niall Houlihan taking 5lbs off. Paul Nicholls’ Magic Saint rates the danger as he has slipped back to the same winning mark when victorious in this contest last season.

14:20 My Drogo

It’s disappointing that there’s only three runners in the field, but it gives us a chance to see MY DROGO in action over fences for the first time. Dan Skelton’s charge made a dramatic rise through the ranks last season, winning four hurdle races on the bounce after finishing second in a bumper in October. His Grade 1 win at Aintree in April makes him a force to be reckoned with.

He’ll be a short price, but lacks the experience of Henry de Bromhead’s Gin On Lime over fences as she has managed to win four of her seven starts over the larger obstacles so far. She’ll go a good gallop in front and if there are any chinks in My Drogo’s armour, she will expose them under Rachael Blackmore.

Cheltenham Festival

14:55 Balko Des Flos

Henry de Bromhead’s BALKO DES FLOS was second in the Aintree Grand National last season and has had a run at Galway last month when unplaced over hurdles. Before he great run over the National fences, he’d previously just jumped okay to finish 15th in the Cross Country Chase to Tiger Roll at the Festival here last March. He has class and with his experience round here on this better ground, he just gets the nod from me.

His stablemate Plan of Attack gets 23lbs from the top weight however, and could be an each-way player.  He was running a good race when coming down at the third last in the Kim Muir Chase that Mount Ida won at Cheltenham last season and was then unplaced in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown. We’re taking his ability to handle these fences a little on trust, but given the weight concession, he looks a bit of value against his stablemate.

15:30 Off Your Rocco

This is the Ballymore Novices Hurdle Trial over 2m 5f ,and Gordon Elliott is absolutely flying both in the UK and Ireland and will be well represented this weekend. OFF YOUR ROCCO is a dual winner already this season in Ireland and his experience will count for a lot. I’ll take him to get the better of Paul Nicholls’ Gelino Bello.

16:00 Samba Dancer

Fergal O’Brien and Liam Harrison team up in the last with SAMBA DANCER, who has rattled up a hat-trick of wins since arriving from Ireland last Spring. He was only raised 3lbs for a tidy win here last time when a neck too good for Straw Fan Jack. He still looks well handicapped and can go in again.

The each-way value is top weight Percy’s Ward. He bumped into Any Given Sunday when an odds on second at Huntingdon to the Jonjo O’Neill runner, but is talented.

Mick Fitzgerald tips summary:

13:10 Art Approval
13:45 Editeur Du Gite
14:20 My Drogo
14:55 Balko Des Flos
15:30 Off Your Rocco
16:00 Samba Dancer

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