Cheltenham Festival 2016 betting: Southfield and Master look the best bets in the Ultima Handicap Chase

Bill Esdaile
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Wincanton Races
Neil Mulholland saddled last year’s winner The Druids Nephew and is doubly represented on Tuesday (Source: Getty)

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has won three of the last seven runnings of the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50pm) and has every chance of adding to his impressive record with the well-handicapped Holywell.

The nine-year-old has a great Festival record, securing wins in the 2013 Pertemps Final and this very race a year later. He then finished a creditable fourth in last year’s Gold Cup having been right in the mix turning for home.

If in that same form, he is bound to go close from a mark of just 153. However, he has been in woeful nick this season and it would take a massive leap of faith to support him at single figure odds.

Neil Mulholland saddled last year’s winner The Druids Nephew and is doubly represented on Tuesday with Carole’s Destrier and THE YOUNG MASTER.

The former ran out an impressive winner at Sandown back in December and has reportedly had a wind operation since that gruelling victory. His 5lb rise is slightly less off-putting as a result, and it’s another big plus that he ran so well at last year’s Festival.

However, I slightly prefer the chances of his stablemate The Young Master who really caught the eye when running on late behind Wakanda at Ascot last December. He lines up today off a 1lb lower mark and looks set for a big run at 14/1 with Sky Bet.

Although he disappointed in last season’s RSA Chase, his previous course victory would suggest this unique track holds no fears. He finished seventh of eight runners that day behind Don Poli with my other selection SOUTHFIELD THEATRE back in second.

Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old looked a big danger to the winner, but sadly picked up a near career-ending cut during the race. His injury sidelined him until November of this year and he has hardly set the world alight in two runs to date this campaign.

But with his stable back in good form I’m prepared to take a chance at 20/1 with Paddy Power that he can bounce back from a mark of just 150.


Southfield Theatre e/w, 2.50pm Cheltenham

​The Young Master e/w, 2.50pm Cheltenham

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