Richard Bandey had a really good season last year and will surely be hoping to build on that this time around with a nice team of horses. SAINT PALAIS has already run to a good level over fences and is rated 148. He is only a five-year-old and in receipt of weight from some of the opposition he has to be the selection.
Fergal O’Brien has his team in red-hot form and he likes to strike at this meeting. CAPTAIN CATTISTOCK has won at Cheltenham previously too. He loves a test of stamina, as he showed when winning at Musselburgh over nearly 4m. The faster they go the better, and I feel he is a decent price. The obvious danger and favourite is The Hollow Ginge. He was narrowly pipped in this race last year. He is 10lbs lower this season and you would have to feel this is a perfect opportunity for him. It was a tough decision to go against him.
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Gordon Elliott is sending a big team over and you have to think he will be taking home a few prizes and PIED PIPER certainly looks like he is ticking all the right boxes here. He has form with Knight Salute and there was nothing between them at Aintree. Knight Salute’s only disappointment last season was in the Triumph Hurdle so maybe he is a little better on a flat track. For that reason, Pied Piper gets the nod.
I find it fascinating that Willie Mullins sends DADS LAD over to run here. He was a good winner at Killarney and is a very strong traveller and good jumper – everything that you need for a 2m race at Cheltenham. There is a lot of pace on here with The Widdow Maker, Effernock Fizz and Editeur Du Gite all front runners. Ability to travel at pace will be important and fitness is on Dads Lad’s side so I feel this is a really good opportunity. The Gordon Elliot-trained Poseidon is interesting having his first run for the trainer.
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This is a qualifier for the Pertemps Final at the Festival next March. horses need to finish in the first four to be able to run there. The other thing to note is the lowest-rated runner in the final last year was rated 134. All of the horses rated lower than that know they need to get to that mark to get a run. PANIC ATTACK finished fourth in this race last year. She is a year older now and she won a nice race at the track in April. She will need to win here to go up and guarantee a place in the final. Shoot First is another to consider as ground was an issue last time at Listowel behind Macgiloney. Botox Has deserves to be favourite on the back of that win at Fontwell.
Henry de Bromhead has won plenty of big prizes at Cheltenham in the last few seasons and LIFE IN THE PARK, the son of Walk In The Park, looked pretty good when winning at Listowel. He jumped a little right-handed which is a concern, but the leader was jumping badly right and I think he might simply have been copying style. Ash Tree Meadow has reached a good level having finished fourth in the Galway Plate and second in a Grade 3 at Tipperary and has to be respected. Mahler Mission is one for the future too.
STRONG LEADER looked a horse to follow when bolting up at Warwick last time out. I’ll go with him for Olly Murphy.
Mick Fitzgerald Cheltenham tips:
*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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