Il Ridoto must beat 12 rivals to win the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase for the second season in a row.
A regular in Premier Handicaps over the intermediate trip at Cheltenham, the seven-year-old also has to defy a career-high mark of 148 after being raised 5lbs for last month’s second place in the December Gold Cup over C&D.
Stablemate Hitman, third in last season’s Ryanair Chase, tops the weights but conditional jockey Freddie Gingell takes off a handy 5lbs.
Venetia Williams is double handed as hat-trick seeker Victtorino bids to continue his upwards progress and Easy As That looks to be back on a workable mark.
The cracking field for Saturday’s 13:15 also includes Grandeur D’Ame, who is significantly better off at weights compared to the December Gold Cup, emphatic Howden Graduation Chase scorer Excello and Old Roan winner Jetoile.
The latest Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase odds are on the Paddy Power website and Paddy Power app, otherwise Timeform’s guide to the runners as well as betting tips from the racing boffins can be found below.
Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase verdict
Timeform: Last year’s winner IL RIDOTO lost nothing in defeat when caught close home here last month and remains feasibly treated. He gets the nod in what looks a highly competitive contest. Victtorino has proved a revelation since switching to Venetia Williams and is feared most, whilst Excello and Hitman are also very much respected.
*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
Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase runners and riders
The following horses have been declared for the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase 2024.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Freddie Gingell Age: 8 Weight: 12st
Shaped as if amiss on return in Old Roan at Aintree but has had a breathing operation since and his only previous visit here resulted in excellent third in Ryanair Chase last season. Not taken lightly.
Trainer: Jamie Snowden Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Age: 8 Weight: 11st 8lbs
Won last season’s Paddy Power (off 8 lb lower) at this venue and travelled well for a long way in Coral Gold Cup at Newbury (3¼m) last month. Cheekpieces worn on that occasion are retained and a strongly-run race at this shorter trip could play to his strengths.
Trainer: Ryan Potter Jockey: Brendan Powell Age: 9 Weight: 11st 8lbs
Ended last season on the upgrade, landing 2 handicaps at Chepstow in good style before making a winning return (albeit a messy renewal due to several omitted fences) in Old Roan Chase at Aintree. Has clearly developed the winning habit and he must enter calculations.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 7 Weight: 11st 6lbs
Clearly well suited by this course, winning this contest (off 10 lb lower) 12 months ago and only narrowly failing to make all in competitive handicap over C&D last month. 5 lb higher now but looks sure to go well again.
Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 6 Weight: 11st 4lbs
Ex-French chaser who has upped his game significantly since joining Venetia Williams, landing back-to-back 23.8f handicaps at Ascot. Faces a different test here but further improvement may be forthcoming.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: James Bowen Age: 5 Weight: 10st 12lbs
Useful form over hurdles and fences at up to 2¾m in France. Only third in novice hurdle for new yard in November but different proposition back chasing 4 weeks later, winning a graduation event in decisive fashion at Ascot (21f, good). Could be more to come on switch to handicaps.
Trainer: Warren Greatrex Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 8 Weight: 10st 10lbs
Had a fine first season over fences, gaining fourth success when gamely landing Topham Chase over the National fences at Aintree (21f) in April. Acquitted himself well in defeat this term but wouldn’t want the ground too dry out too much here.
Straw Fan Jack
Trainer: Sheila Lewis Jockey: Sean Houlihan Age: 9 Weight: 10st 9lbs
Dual winner over fences last term who made a solid return behind Pic D’Orhy at Ascot in November. However, ran no sort of race at same course since and makes limited appeal here.
Easy As That
Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Shane Quinlan Age: 9 Weight: 10st 9lbs
Looked a potentially smart chaser when easily scoring at Haydock and Newcastle last winter but has found life tougher since, down the field in competitive handicaps at this venue. In fine hands, however, and is only 4 lb above his last winning mark.
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Charlie Todd Age: 7 Weight: 10st 6lbs
Improved for switch to chasing last season, landing handicaps at Kempton/Newbury (at up to 18f) and ran up to best when second in Ascot handicap (16.7f) on penultimate start. This looks tougher, though, and he arrives on back of poor effort at Musselburgh.
Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Tom Bellamy Age: 8 Weight: 10st 5lbs
Winning hurdler who has a generally progressive profile over fences, back on the up when landing a handicap at Wetherby (19.4f) in November. Far from disgraced (from 3 lb out of the weights) when fourth in C&D handicap since and merits consideration.
Trainer: Henry Daly Jockey: Jonathan Burke Age: 7 Weight: 10st 2lbs
Looked more straightforward than had previously been the case (in blinkers) when landing small-field handicaps at Catterick/Taunton during second half of last term. Did too much too soon in Becher Chase latest but may find things happening plenty quick enough dropped in trip here.
Trainer: Tom George Jockey: Nicolas Gauffenic Age: 10 Weight: 10st 2lbs
Campaigned exclusively in France in recent years, running up to best when second in listed chase at Auteuil (17.4f, heavy) 62 days ago. Since rejoined Tom George and doesn’t look harshly treated back handicapping but it’s been some time since he got his head in front.
Saturday’s Racing Tips
- Cheltenham Tips: Your best bets from Paddy’s pundits on Trials Day
- Mick Fitzgerald’s ITV Racing tips for Cheltenham & Doncaster on ITV
- Rory Delargy’s horse racing tips for Cheltenham & Doncaster on Saturday
- Matt Chapman’s ITV Racing tips for Cheltenham & Doncaster on ITV
- Gallop over to Paddy Power News for all the latest horse racing tips
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