TRADITIONALLY the English handicapper tends to punish the Irish-trained runners in the Festival handicaps by allotting them up to 10lbs more weight than their official domestic marks.
When the weights were revealed on Wednesday, I was particularly interested in the fate of two runners from across the Irish Sea and they had mixed fortunes.
Gordon Elliott’s De Plotting Shed surprisingly sneaked into the Close Brothers Handicap Chase on the opening day of the meeting off the same mark as he has in Ireland.
However, he has been well-backed as a result and is pretty short at 6/1 now having been 14/1 a week ago.
The other one I was keen on was Sort It Out for Eddie Harty and JP McManus in the Pertemps Final.
He flew home to qualify for this race at Punchestown last week, but he has been saddled with the best part of 10lbs more than his Irish mark and may struggle now.
Of the home contenders, the one I am most interested in is Nick Williams’ FLYING TIGER who memorably won last season’s Fred Winter at 33/1.
He only holds the one entry in the County Hurdle on the final day of the meeting and looks on a reasonable mark of 140.
The five-year-old has been highly tried this campaign and wasn’t beaten far by Champion Hurdle favourite Buveur D’Air three starts back.
On his latest start he finished fourth in the Kingwell Hurdle and wasn’t too far behind solid yardsticks like Elgin and Ch’Tibello.
At 20/1 in a few places, he looks a really good each-way proposition back down in calmer waters.
He’ll relish the bigger field and strong pace he is bound to get here and looks a lively contender at the prices.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL POINTERS
Flying Tiger e/w 20/1 County Hurdle