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Rory Delargy’s Saturday Racing Tips:
12:35 Cheltenham – Mr Freedom
13:30 Cheltenham – Castle Robin
13:45 Cheltenham – Tommy’s Oscar
14:20 Cheltenham – Stolen Silver
14:35 Lingfield – Judical
14:55 Cheltenham – Jatiluwih
15:10 Lingfield – Bolshoi Ballet
15:30 Cheltenham – Unanswered
16:05 Cheltenham – Queens Gamble
Mr Freedom would have dotted up in the Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle at Wetherby but for effectively being forced out at the penultimate obstacle and he looks great each-way value with the ground to suit. Sheena West’s gelding had won his last three, showing sharply progressive form, and looks ahead of the curve at the moment.
Valsheda is of interest in handicapping terms but he made errors at both Kempton and Ffos Las, and is far from certain to be able to get away with any mistakes in such a competitive contest.
One who does jump well, and can cope with a big field at Cheltenham is Castle Robin, who won a handicap hurdle at this meeting in 2020, and has taken well to fences. He may have just needed the run on his return at Kelso, and if cheekpieces are any help at all, should be hard to kick out of the frame.
Banbridge is my idea of the likeliest Festival winner in this field, and he jumped immaculately on in chase debut at Gowran, but he’s unlikely to be aimed at the Arkle, with connections having already tried him at 3m over hurdles at Aintree. I could still see him getting a few of these in trouble with his jumping, but one who also looks assured in that department is Tommy’s Oscar, who impressed when winning on his chase bow at Carlisle, and who has very smart hurdles form at this trip.
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Stolen Silver ticks plenty of the right boxes. His easy defeat of Simply The Betts and Coole Cody over C&D in April took his course record over fences away from soft ground to 221, and although higher in the weights for that, he fully deserves his career-high mark. He lacks a recent run, but that is no concern, since Sam Thomas has run four horses in the past fortnight in good-class handicaps off a break, and they have finished 3111. Stolen Silver.
He’s into the veteran stage, but Judicial has run well several times in this race before, winning in 2019 and running even better when second last year. He’s well drawn to track the pace, and I’ll be disappointed if he can’t hit the frame again.
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Jatiluwih finished lame on his most recent chase start, but is a superior hurdler and has been given a chance with the handicapper dropping him 10lb since last running over hurdles in the 2020 Pertemps Final, where he ran creditably. His previous hurdles record in the UK reads 111112, including an impressive win at this meeting a couple of seasons ago.
It’s not easy to work out how ready Bolshoi Ballet will be for this Listed contest, but he’s very well treated on the pick of his 3-y-o form, and the fitting of blinkers suggests this isn’t simply a prep race, and O’Brien has a 25% strike rate when utilising the headgear for the first time.
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Unanswered looks absolutely thrown in here given his rapid progress on the Flat this summer, and he ran a huge race from a poor draw at the Curragh late last month. He’s unexposed as a hurdler, and is superbly bred, so I can see him improving well beyond his current mark for the shrewd pairing of John Breslin and Tony Martin.
Queens Gamble is a good bet here. A line through Mullenbeg suggests she is held by Luccia, but Queens Gamble beat Mullenbeg on good ground here on her debut, whereas Luccia had experience when beating the same mare on soft ground at Sandown. Mullenbeg has a good turn of foot and seemed to hate the conditions at Sandown, and I believe that Queens Gamble produced the more promising performance in the circumstances. She could be top-class, and is a working man’s price because of that collateral form.
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