By Richard Hoiles
A week of Cheltenham preview evenings, starting at Belfast last night, should help bring together the final threads before the curtain comes up in a week’s time.
Most of my efforts in recent years have revolved around the handicaps where a single winner can be enough to ensure a profitable week and stakes managed to ensure any reversals are not too heavy.Finding a handicap winner at Cheltenham can pay for the week (PA)
The battle between punter and bookmaker will have taken shape by as early as midway through the second day with no fewer than six favourites likely to have gone off 2-1 or shorter by the conclusion of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
How many of the short ones go in early will have a key impact on the bookmakers desire to take on favourites, as opposed to wanting to shorten them up if the first few go in with the resulting multiple liabilities mounting up.
The fruits of my labour will be posted next week with the potential for softer ground than usual the nagging doubt about a few horses I am currently interested in.
Closer to hand the “Tuesday jumping jinx” has struck again so all the selections come from the sole remaining all-weather meeting at Southwell.
No flash price but does look the banker of the card after back-to-back wins at Southwell and Chelmsford.
The fact the handicapper has been able to have a pop at him and raise him 9lb means it will require a career best effort but he looks to have improved for the change of stables and can hopefully run down Lean On Pete, seemingly the only threat to his hat-trick bid.
Weighted to reverse form with Cousin Khee (won again since) and even though the latter comes here on the crest of a wave the respective odds make Katie Gale the preferred option.
A change of scene seems to suit the selection who, like many before her, had improved greatly when joining Mick Appleby winning three of her first four starts for the yard in 2014/15.
She has dropped back to a decent mark and even though no match for Cousin Khee last time has a 10lb weight pull for her three-length beating and will be having her second start for Robyn Brisland.
Returns to these shores after a spell in Ireland during which his mark plummeted.
His runs at Southwell for first David O’Meara and then Steve Gollings proves he handles the surface and the booking of William Cox, who rode a winner for the yard on Mr Carbonator at the track at the end of January, relieves the burden by a handy 5lb. Could be very interesting on his first start for Philip Kirby.
After a very quiet 2017 which yielded just 13 winners, Ann Duffield has several well handicapped horses and has started this year in far better heart, with three wins from only 12 runners.
Mimic’s Memory hasn’t yet been able to contribute to that total but that can all change here. This 0-55 is an even lower level than the race in which Mimic’s Memory placed two starts ago and the application of cheekpieces can hopefully provide the focus to get back into the winner’s enclosure.
Richard's top tips for Tuesday:
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