Captain Chris set to book his ticket to Cheltenham

BINOCULAR looks impossible to oppose in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown tomorrow as Peddlers Cross is set to miss his scheduled rematch with the reigning Champion Hurdler. However, he is certain to be sent off ridiculously short and CAPTAIN CHRIS is a far more attractive betting option half an hour later at 2.25pm.

Philip Hobbs’ seven-year-old has yet to win over fences, but has been crying out for this better ground and his shrewd handler has apparently sorted out all of his previous wind problems.

Regular readers will remember that I tipped MOOSE MORAN to win at Ludlow on Monday and, as that meeting was abandoned, he makes his eagerly awaited hurdling debut in Sandown’s opener tomorrow. He was classy on the flat and is expected to be just as good over hurdles.

Victor Dartnall’s stable is flying at the moment and his NICTO DE BEAUCHENE is fancied to land back-to-back handicaps at the Esher track in the 3.35pm.

COUNTDOWN TO CHELTENHAM

As the Cheltenham Festival draws nearer, every Friday I will be looking to identify a number of horses who I think will shorten in price considerably between now and the third week of March. If we back them now on Betdaq, we should be able to lay our stake back before the ‘off’ and be left with a risk-free bet… that’s the plan anyway!

The first horse that leaps out at me is the Paul Nolan-trained NOBLE PRINCE who is set to run in the Jewson Novices’ Chase according to connections. He was only beaten a short head on his latest start behind Realt Dubh in a Grade One at Leopardstown and has been crying out for this step up in trip.

He can currently be backed at 11.0 on Betdaq and I would be amazed if his price didn’t contract markedly over the next few weeks.

At much bigger odds, I’m prepared to take a chance on SIZING EUROPE at around 21.0 for the Ryanair Chase. Connections will almost certainly swerve the Gold Cup and he looked woefully outpaced over two miles last time.

This appears to be the only viable race by default and his price will shorten drastically once it is nominated. He may not win, but if he does take part, he travels well enough to trade very short in-running.