Peter Naughton's Festival fancies: Bank on Mengli Khan

By Peter Naughton
Wed 7 Mar 2018

By Peter Naughton

This time last year Peter Naughton struck gold at Cheltenham with Flying Tiger, 33-1 winner of the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle. He wrote: “Flying Tiger can exploit a rating of 135. He caught the eye when not knocked about in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last month and trainer Nick Williams rates him exceptionally highly.” Below are his fancies for this year.

Click here for more of Peter's completely free notebook horses.

With only a few days to go before the start of another spectacular Cheltenham Festival on Racing UK, here are my thoughts on Tuesday’s card.

Mengli Khan, a general 12-1 chance, could be a value bet against hot favourite Getabird in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Gordon Elliott's classy ex-Flat performer was beaten nine lengths by his old rival in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer at Punchestown but was conceding 6lb in testing conditions. Racing off level weights on better ground could bring a different result.

In the same race, Paloma Blue, 14-1 with most firms, should also go well. He was no match for the mighty Samcro in the Grade One Deloitte Novices' Hurdle at Leopardstown but did not help himself by racing freely in the early stages.

Mengli Khan Fhouse 11 Mengli Khan is fancied to turn the tables on Getabird in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle (PA)

The gelding was still going well when leading two out but was slow at the last and no match for the impressive winner.

Paloma Blue lost second place close home but should see out this race better on drier ground and when able to settle off the stronger gallop.

Any Second Now could go very close if lining up in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase.

The weight range in all the handicaps will be typically narrow, so finding a well treated selection isn't going to be easy.

However, there's no doubting Any Second Now, 10-1 with BetBright, will find this much easier than when third to Footpad the Grade One Arkle at Leopardstown last month. He is also entered in the Grade One JLT on Thursday.

De Plotting Shed’s four entries at the meeting include the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase and he also has to be on any shortlist.

He chased home Arkle hope Montalbano at Gowran Park in January but the 2m trip was wholly inadequate for this stoutly bred son of Beneficial.

He put in good late work last time and this trip will bring his stamina into play.

Before Cheltenham, we might get a few quid in the kitty with Dino Velvet at Wincanton on Thursday.

Alan King’s highly regarded five-year-old missed a winning opportunity on Newbury’s abandoned card last week.

A fast gallop will suit this strong stayer and don’t be surprised to see him kicking for home early in this long, testing home straight.

He hit a flat spot before running on at Cheltenham and drying conditions will increase confidence, as his best efforts have been on good to soft ground.

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