IT HAD been a long time in between drinks for Alan King at the Cheltenham Festival before Edwardstone landed Tuesday’s Sporting Life Arkle.
His last winner at this meeting was Uxizandre in the 2015 Ryanair, incidentally also AP McCoy’s final Festival winner, but he may not have to wait too long for the next one.
THE GLANCING QUEEN takes her chance in this afternoon’s Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Plate Handicap Chase (4.10pm), where she must have a massive chance after her fine second to L’Homme Presse in the Paddy Power Novices’ Chase here on New Year’s Day.
She had Ultima Handicap third Oscar Elite well behind her that day and the handicapper kindly decided to drop her a pound to a mark of 141.
Considering she had won two Listed mares’ novice chases on her previous two starts, I think it’s fair to say she is well-handicapped off that mark.
At 11/2 with Fitzdares, she looks a decent bet to give King and Tom Cannon another memorable winner.
Celebre D’Allen and Imperial Alcazar are both worthy challengers, although the former is a 10-year-old and you have to go back to 2011 to find the last time a horse of that age was successful.
There are some interesting contenders from Ireland like Grand Paradis and Fancy Foundations, but I’m happy to stick with the mare.
In the closing Kim Muir Handicap Chase (5.30pm), COME ON TEDDY looks over-priced at 16/1 with bet365 who are offering six places.
Tom George’s eight-year-old was third in the Pertemps Final last year and then fifth in the aforementioned Paddy Power Novices’ Chase here in January.
That looks to be strong form, over a trip too short for him, and Will Biddick is a good jockey booking.
He made a couple of errors last time at Newcastle, which he can’t afford to do in this, but he always goes well at Cheltenham and looks to have solid claims.
I will also throw a few quid each-way on MISTER FOGPATCHES at 12/1 with bet365.
He struggles to get his head in front, but he is very consistent and ran well to be second to Commodore here in December.
He has also been placed in the Cork Grand National, the Troytown and the Thyestes this season, three of the most competitive handicap chases in Ireland, so we know he thrives on this kind of test.
Patrick Mullins has been booked by Pat Fahy which is a good sign of confidence in his chance.
Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand with Frontal Assault and Smoking Gun, while School Boy Hours would be a threat to all but if the ground dries out too quickly he might not even run.
Winter Fog has been the talking horse for the Pertemps Final (2.10pm) over the past couple of weeks but he is now pretty short at 5/1.
The one who I think is the best-handicapped in the race is ALAPHILIPPE for Fergal O’Brien.
He was just behind Stattler in last year’s Albert Bartlett and reappeared with an eyecatching run in a qualifier at Warwick in January behind Sporting John.
Dropped a couple of pounds for that, he will be running off 138 this afternoon and I think he will prove plenty better than that in the future.
At 7/1 with Fitzdares’ six places, he represents decent value.
You cannot rule out 2019 and 2020 winner Sire Du Berlais who stepped up to the Stayers’ Hurdle last year and finished second to Flooring Porter.
Back in these calmer waters, and with Rob James taking off seven pounds from the saddle, he has to be respected off just a four-pound higher mark than when last successful two years ago.
Whoever you’re backing today, you should also have a go at racing prediction game Whoknowswins.
All you have to do is download the app, enter the Cheltenham league on the home page and pick your selections in all of today’s races.
Each entry costs £5 and you can enter up to 20 times. The punter with the most correct picks at the end of the day wins the pool, with the top 20 percent of entrants also receiving a pay-out.
Alaphilippe e/w 2.10pm Cheltenham
The Glancing Queen e/w 4.10pm Cheltenham
Come On Teddy e/w 5.30pm Cheltenham
Mister Fogpatches e/w 5.30pm Cheltenham