FRIDAY at Cheltenham is probably the trickiest day of the week for punters. With three puzzling handicaps, a hunter chase and an ultra-competitive Gold Cup, winners will be hard to come by.
One man with proven form on the final day of the Festival is Dan Skelton. He’s landed two of the last three renewals of today’s County Hurdle (2.10pm) and holds a big chance of making it three from four with Mohaayed and CH’TIBELLO.
The former crept in under the radar last year at odds of 33/1 and the bookies aren’t taking any chances, pricing him at around 20/1 for a repeat success.
Since last year’s Festival win, he’s run a good fourth in the Welsh Champion Hurdle, a solid seventh in the Greatwood and landed a very competitive contest at Ascot.
He looked a little outclassed when fourth of five in the Grade Two New One Hurdle at Haydock last time out and the step back into handicap company will help.
However, he’s now a hefty 14lbs higher than 12 months and lugging around top-weight on what is fairly testing ground at Prestbury Park is a massive ask.
Skelton’s other runner, Ch’tibello, has slid down the handicap recently and is of more interest.
He’s a dual winner in Graded company who runs off his lowest mark for two years and showed he’s ready to get his head back in front with a close second to Midnight Shadow at Aintree before Christmas.
The yard have kept him off the track since December to preserve his mark of 143 and he comes into this race with a massive chance.
He looks too big at 10/1 with Paddy Power. Plenty of household names line up for the Foxhunters’ Chase (4.10pm).
Three-time Grand National runner Ucello Conti is unbeaten this season and is clearly enjoying his racing at the moment.
After unseating in last year’s National, the 11-year-old is brimming with confidence once again after successful spins over fences.
He’s not been overlooked in the betting, though, and is as short as 4/1. A horse that could easily be that price but comes from a lesser-known yard is HAZEL HILL.
Philip Rowley has just a handful of horses and most of them ply their trade on the point-to-point circuit.
Hazel Hill is his stable star, having won six of his seven starts in that sphere, and he’s unbeaten in three starts under rules for the yard after wins at Towcester, Leicester and, most recently, Warwick.
He absolutely romped home on that last start to book his ticket to Cheltenham and looks worth backing at 6/1.
Rider Alex Edwards has won twice at Cheltenham before and finished third in this race for Rowley’s 2017 runner, Barel Of Laughs.
Ch’tibello 2.10pm Cheltenham
HazelHill 4.10pm Cheltenham