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NEWTIDE has not been seen since being pulled up in February at Ascot but he has an engine and relishes testing ground. He hammered Iwilldoit over hurdles a couple of years ago and was a fortunate winner of the Grade 2 Towton Novices Chase at Wetherby in February 2020. Newtide was running off 142 when third on reappearance last season behind Snow Leopardess (now rated 21lbs higher) in a Haydock handicap over 3m2f on soft ground. He has been dropped to 137 here which is 5lb lower than the mark he ran off at Haydock.
We haven’t seen CURIOUS TIMES since he fell at Faiyhouse last November, when 12/1 in a stronger handicap than this. The likes of King Alex, Millen To One, Jiving Jerry, Minx Tiara and McAlpine were all in the race and this a definite drop in grade. Curious Times was good enough to beat Black Tears in a maiden hurdle at Down Royal once upon a time and while there’s a good chance he needs this, if you were getting a double figure price, I’d definitely take a chance then.
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Colin Tizzard’s horses ran terribly over Christmas and I’m taking a big chance here on OSCAR ELITE. He was a very good novice hurdler, finishing second in the Albert Bartlett and third in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, behind Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame. He handles bad ground, as he won his first two hurdles starts on heavy going, and was jumping and travelling beautifully on chase debut here in November when Brendan Powell asked him for a big one three out and he came down. He was very poor at Huntingdon three weeks later, where he got racing very far out, but the drop in trip here might suit and while the Tizzard yard form is a huge concern, a double-figure price will definitely tempt me in.
I was surprised SIMPLY THE BETTS ran in the Many Clouds Chase after the Paddy Power Gold Cup because he travelled so well and I had ear-marked him for the Racing Post Gold Cup. He was pulled up in the Many Clouds, so perhaps he didn’t have the biggest slog that day and runs here off a pound lower than his Paddy Power Gold Cup mark. He’s also 2-2 on the New Course, beating Imperial Aura here in January 2020 and then winning the Plate at that season’s Festival off a mark of 149. I’d be surprised if Paul Nicholls couldn’t get a decent handicap out of him off this sort of mark and he looks a cracking price.
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A promising juvenile who has won here twice, BOTOX HAS relishes testing ground so conditions will be more suitable than here in December. He proved that day that he stays 3m when second to Kansas City Chief on his first start at that distance. Sure, he’s up 3lbs but is unexposed over this trip and with the ground in his favour, he looks to have solid each-way claims. Gary Moore also has his string in fine form.
Put The Kettle On has to concede 7lbs to Court Maid and Elimay and 4lbs to Mount Ida and Henry de Bromhead’s haven’t been flying over the Christmas period. Elimay was almost reluctant at Aintree and has a bit to prove here but Willie Mullins’ are in form and she could be too good. MOUNT IDA won the Kim Muir and was then behind Elimay here in a Grade 2 at the Easter Festival. The ground should be soft with at least 10mm falling on Thursday and Friday so the easier going will suit her and she is probably the most solid option.
McFabulous won this last year when it was switched to Kempton, which would have suited him but I’m not sure Cheltenham on soft ground is ideal. BREWIN’UPASTORM may not be very consistent but when he is good he can be really good. His return to hurdles last season proved fruitful, winning a Taunton handicap in a canter off 148 and then easily accounting for McFabulous in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell. He also bolted up at Aintree on his reappearance over 2m4f when conceding 6lbs+ to the field.
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The presence of Shadow Rider and Grand Paradis will ensure this is a decent Beginners Chase but JUNGLE BOOGIE could be a fair bit above average and could turn into a dark horse for a big race in the spring. He won his bumper at Clonmel last November, easily beating the Grade 2 placed Angels Dawn, and was hugely impressive when landing his hurdles debut at Punchestown in February over 2m4f by 30l. The second that day, Ahead Of The Field, won a handicap chase at Southwell recently off 113 and had won a Navan maiden hurdle on his next start. The third, Glentruan, then won a Cork maiden hurdle and dead heated at Ayr recently off a mark of 120. Jungle Boogie could be top class but probably wants soft ground.
Frank Hickey’s Tips
12:50 Cheltenham – Newtide (e/w)
12:55 Fairyhouse – Curious Times (e/w)
13:25 Cheltenham – Oscar Elite
14:00 Cheltenham – Simply The Betts (e/w)
14:35 Cheltenham – Botox Has (e/w)
14:40 Fairyhouse – Mount Ida
15:10 Cheltenham – Brewin’upastorm
15:15 Fairyhouse – Jungle Boogie
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