Cheltenham Tips: Frank Hickey’s best bets for Friday at the November meeting

Frank Hickey marks your card for the opening salvos of the three-day November meeting in the Cotswolds.

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*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.

13:10 – Astigar

Astigar is looking to give trainer David Pipe his fourth win in the last decade in this race and he’s also had a couple placed. Astigar’s best two runs were first time out in a bumper and then after an absence of 66 days. We know he goes well fresh, so I’m not that put off by a 20-month absence. The Pipe yard is in good form with seven winners from 27 runners for a 26 per cent strike rate approximately. He’s had a couple placed in this race also and Astigar could be another live contender in a race the yard targets.

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13:45 – Grey Diamond

A two-mile chase where The Glancing Queen heads the weights but I’m willing to take her on with Grey Diamond. He only had three runs last season after a disappointing run at Wincanton in January for a total of just nine starts over fences. His best piece of form could be when fourth at Newbury off a rating of 132 behind Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup fancy Il Ridoto, Numitor and Frero Banbou who are now rated 9lbs, 12lbs and 9lbs higher respectively.

Last season’s Welsh Grand National winning trainer Sam Thomas is really starting to shine and has had three big handicap winners this season already with Our Power, Good Risk At All & Al Dancer.

14:20 – Unanswered Prayers

This contest has changed to a handicap this season and Unanswered Prayers ran a really nice comeback race under a 7lb claimer when fifth in the Silver Trophy behind Knappers Hill at Chepstow last month. The winner has won again since at Graded level and the second, sixth and seventh that day at Chepstow have all won subsequently also. Unanswered Prayers actually got dropped a couple of lbs for that run and we should have no worries on the jumping front as he was second in two point-to-points. His trainer Chris Gordon is in good form too.

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14:55 – Magic Dancer

A Veteran’s Handicap Chase where Magic Dancer might take advantage of the 2m 4f trip being too short for a number of these. He bolted up when last seen in April at Ludlow, but the winning margin may have been exaggerated as Kakamora fell three out when travelling well. He appreciates decent ground and has winning course form at Cheltenham too.

15:30 – Collector’s Item

Collector’s Item is a brother to that good staying mare Royal Kahala and was second in a point-to-point to dual bumper winner Lookaway. Collector’s Item was second to Weveallbenncaught (runs here too and is a much shorter price) on his UK debut in a bumper at Newbury and travelled like the best horse in the race before just getting outbattled to go down by half a length.

He won over two miles in a hurdles race at Chepstow last time on his seasonal debut and should improve for the step up in trip. He looks to have plenty of ability even if the Irish challenge from Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott proves strong and Paul Nicholls runs an expensive recruit and Stratford winner Hermes Allen.

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16:00 – Explosive Boy

This has been a tricky contest for punters with the last three winners all returning at 33/1. Some decent horses have won it in the last 10 years with Quick Jack, Chesterfield, A Hare Breath & Ifandbutwhynot among them and this season it could go to Explosive Boy.

In his maiden hurdle years he finished third to Blazing Khal at Galway in September 2021 and third at the same venue to Choice of Words three weeks later. His form trailed off after that but a return to that type of form off a mark now of 117 now over hurdles, he could surprise. Hey Johnny is an unexposed five-year-old hurdler who went up 10lbs for his Clonmel win (but races off 7lb higher again in the UK) but could still have scope to improve.

One open to plenty of improvement is Mothill has had the form of his Chepstow win boosted by the fifth-placed Impulsive One winning on Tuesday. That Chepstow  has thrown up  plenty of good winners before (Thyme White 2020, Grand Sancy 2018, Silver Streak 2017) and trainer Neill Mulholland is always dangerous at this time of year at Cheltenham.

Frank Hickey’s Friday picks at Cheltenham

13:10 – Astigar 
13:45 – Grey Diamond 
14:20 – Unanswered Prayers 
14:55 – Magic Dancer 
15:30 – Collector’s Item 
16:00 – Explosive Boy

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What do you think?