This looks a Good Time to back Jonny
THERE aren’t many trickier puzzles to solve during the four days of the Cheltenham Festival than the Pertemps Network Final (2.10pm).
The way the qualification system for this race works means you often get horses that we haven’t seen anything like the best of yet this season.
And this year’s renewal looks particularly trappy with a whole host of the 24-strong field looking handicapped to be very competitive.
Gordon Elliott won it three years in succession from 2018 to 2020, and many will fancy his Maxxum to improve his strong record in the three-mile contest.
He couldn’t have been more impressive when winning a competitive handicap at Leopardstown by just the 16 lengths over Christmas, and while he was disappointing subsequently over the same course and distance, this has surely been the plan all season.
He looks likely to go well as he could still have plenty in hand, but it’s another Irish contender in the form of GOOD TIME JONNY that will be the first horse carrying my money.
Trained by one of the shrewdest operators in the game in Tony Martin, Good Time Jonny hasn’t won since February 2022, but was a good third to Maxxum in the aforementioned Leopardstown race – a run that has been boosted with the fourth, Perceval Legallois, winning since.
You can ignore his run last time as it was over a trip much too short and there aren’t many better at getting a horse ready for a big day than Martin.
I can see his charge running really well at around the 11/1 mark.
In a race of this nature, I always like to throw a couple of darts at the board and I’ll also be having a few quid on Nicky Henderson’s MILL GREEN at 25/1.
He might be the joint-oldest runner in the field at the grand old age of 11 and he certainly isn’t a frequent winner, having not won over hurdles for more than three years, but he might just have snuck in under the radar here.
He was a really good third in this race last year off today’s mark where he virtually jumped the final flight in front before getting just touched-off on the run-in.
Henderson’s contender also ran a fine race when sixth in the 2020 Martin Pipe, so – for whatever reason – he seems to come alive at Cheltenham.
Mill Green made a more than satisfactory return at Haydock last month, so I just thought there were plenty of reasons to suggest he might outrun his big price.
Good Time Jonny e/w 2.10pm Cheltenham
Mill Green e/w 2.10pm Cheltenham