THIS afternoon’s card at Cheltenham has a more trappy feel than ever, with plenty of rain due to hit the course from the early hours of this morning.
After an almost dry 48-hour period, the word ‘heavy’ looks set to reappear in the going description and it is worth treading with care.
Away from the feature race, Un De Sceaux looks to have a repeat win in the Ryanair Chase (2.50pm) at his mercy.
However, this really bad ground will test his stamina to the hilt and I’m not totally convinced he is completely bombproof with the likes of Cue Card set to test him.
My other concern is that Douvan’s presence among the final declarations means that a Rule 4 will be slapped on Un De Sceaux’s price too.
The JLT Novices’ Chase (1.30pm) that kicks-off this afternoon’s action looks a wide-open affair.
Willie Mullins’ Invitation Only looks rock solid and the only reason I haven’t made him a selection is that there are plenty of others you can make a case for.
Benatar looks a real talent, while Shattered Love sneaks in with a 6lbs mares allowance and is hard to discount.
When you throw in Finian’s Oscar who lines up after having had a wind operation, the race is definitely one to watch rather than get heavily financially involved in.
Instead, I am going to wait for Gordon Elliott’s GLENLOE in the Pertemps Final (2.10pm) at 6/1 with Grosvenorsport.com, who will double the odds for all new customers on any bet up to £20 with the winnings paid in cash.
He has been on plenty of punters’ radars for this three-mile prize for some time now and sneaks in off a mark of just 137.
Bred to be a stout stayer, he caught the eye when running on at the death to finish third over this trip at Leopard- stown over Christmas.
This race has obviously been the plan and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go extremely close.
Finding the winner of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (4.10pm) may just be one of the challenges of the week, let alone the day.
A novice won this race 12 months ago and I’m pretty sure another JP McManus-owned runner in MOVEWITHTHETIMES can go well at a best-priced 8/1.
Admittedly, the rain isn’t ideal and this will be the softest ground he has ever raced on, but I’m convinced he is an extremely well-handicapped horse I expect him to go close here. He was originally being aimed at the novices’ handicap on Tuesday but has been re-routed to take his chance in this.
I’ll also being having a saver on the Gary Moore-trained TRAFFIC FLUIDE at what could be a monster looking 33/1.
The eight-year-old was good enough to run in last season’s Champion Chase where he finished a gallant sixth and then went on to finish third in a Grade One at Aintree behind Fox Norton over this trip.
He now drops back in trip having been campaigned over three miles on his last two starts on really bad ground.
In the meantime, his handicap mark has dropped from 160 down to 145 in just over 12 months and he may just be the class horse in this.
If he can return to anywhere near his best he is sure to run well.
Glenloe e/w 2.10pm Cheltenham
Movewiththetimes e/w 4.10pm Cheltenham
Traffic Fluide e/w 4.10pm Cheltenham