Horse Racing Tips: Frank Hickey’s top Friday picks at Cheltenham

Day one of the two-day October meeting and top trader Frank takes you through the card.

Frank Hickey Cheltenham Oct 22

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13:35 – Elham Valley (each-way)

Elham Valley is only five years old but has had 16 runs over hurdles, so you hardly could describe him as unexposed. He looks to be Fergal O’Brien second string here with Jack Hogan taking 6lb off. Jack Harrison is on Castel Gandolfo and the yard have won two of the past three renewals of this race.

He won in Warwick in May off 109 and went a bit off the boil before winning at Newton Abbot in August off 115. I liked the way he travelled at Southwell when beaten a length in second behind Hurricane Ali off 117.

A big field and a strongly run race would suit him better, while any easing of the ground is likely to suit. He is worth chancing each-way at a decent price.

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14:10 – Jetoile

This is a tricky race. Aucunrisque and Jetoile were first and second on their season debuts at Uttoxeter a few weeks ago. Both have plenty of potential. Aucunrisque won the Grade 2 Dovecote last season, while Jetoile was second in the Grade 1 Tolworth.

Jetoile may well reverse the form now he is 5lb better off for a 3/4 length beating. He was third here on his hurdles debut last year when an 80/1 shot. He was beaten just over a length by Top Bandit with Brorson in second.

He won his next two easily before the Tolworth second and poor efforts in the Betfair Hurdle and in Newcastle when stepped up to 2m6f in a small field, which didn’t suit. I liked the way he jumped on his debut and he will improve plenty for the experience. He’s getting weight off all the field bar Uhtred so I’ll take a chance on him.

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14:45 – Mofasa

Mofasa had a really impressive hurdles debut at Uttoxeter a few weeks ago over 2m4f when cruising through the race and quickening nicely to beat Colonel Harry, who had won a point in Ireland and went for £130k.

He was fourth on his bumper debut a year previously at Ffos Las on soft ground. He could well improve again when going out to 3m but there might be a spot of value here.

15:20 – Tullybeg

Tullybeg had been campaigned as a stayer over hurdles but this might be his best trip. He was good enough to beat Authorized Art at Kilbeggan in June. He lacks consistency but when he is good, he can be very good.

He won nicely at Wexford last month in a rated Novice Chase over 2m4f beating Rambranlt’jac and Upping The Anti. Decent ground is a positive for him and a mark of 139 is very workable (he beat Hewick off 130 over hurdles this time last year when conceding 5lbs to him).

I also really respect Pull Again Green but a lack of chasing experience might just catch him out, so I’ll side with Tullybeg.

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15:55 – Spanish Present

I always respect Martin Keighley’s runners at Cheltenham and Spanish Present makes his handicap hurdle debut off just 116. He was a bumper winner on his stable debut in February at Market Rasen, easily beating a previous bumper winner.

He went to the Champion Bumper and wasn’t disgraced when beaten 27 lengths back in 9th (of 20 runners). The testing ground probably wasn’t ideal either, as he is by Presenting.

He was beaten at odds-on at Kelso on his hurdles debut in May but made no mistake at Worcester last month on his reappearance. I’m pretty sure he is very well handicapped and the booking of Sean Bowen (26 per cent strike rate for the yard) is a big positive.

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16:30 – Powerful Position

Powerful Position has Freddie Gordon claiming 5lbs but in his 14 starts over obstacles, he has three wins, a second and four thirds. He is 1-2 over fences too.

Christian Williams won this last year with Strictlyadancer who had a similar profile to Powerful Position. He was a seven-year-old who prepped at Chepstow when a little disappointing and improved for the run to win here when well supported too.

Powerful Position is probably better at this stage of his career, however. He won three on the bounce in the spring at staying trips, going from 87 to 115. He dropped 2lbs for that second at Chepstow and is open to further improvement this season.

17:05 – Hullnback

I liked the way Hullnback won on his bumper debut last November at Chepstow. I remember putting him up for the listed bumper at Newbury in February but he was held up too far back and ran on into fifth. Authorized Speed was fourth and he ran fifth in the Champion Bumper on his next start.

Hullnback finished his season with a cracking second in the Grade 2 Ainree bumper, beaten 2 lengths by Lookaway. It might not have been the strongest renewal of that bumper but he should still make up in to a nice novice hurdler and should take a bit of beating here.

Cheltenham Tips

13:35Elham Valley (each-way)
14:10Jetoile
14:45Mofasa
15:20Tullybeg
15:55Spanish Present
16:30Powerful Position
17:05Hullnback

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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