BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase 2m5f (new) Cheltenham Sunday – With nine of the last ten winners returned at odds of 8/1 or less, and the “Jolly” hitting the back of the net on the last three occasions, the contest has certainly been punter friendly, and long may this happy state of affairs continue. Previous Cheltenham form has been a significant guide as seven of the last ten winners had won over the course, and indeed two of the last three winners of Decembers contest, The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (also run over the new course) have doubled up here, Village Vic last year, and Double Ross two years ago.
With two wins and three places from nine runners over the past decade, the Twiston Davies yard knows what is required and have two left in at the time of writing, Bristol De Mai and Foxtail Hill. The latter needs a half dozen to come out to get a run, so the 6yo Bristol De Mai is the one to concentrate on.
He was well beaten on his reappearance in a two horse affair at Carlisle after a six month break, but showed the benefit, when running a very solid race in the 2m7 1/2f Rehersal Chase at Newcastle last time. Racing off Sunday’s mark of 154 he finished second to Otago Trail with Definitly Red, who was in receipt of 12lbs, 1 1/4L back in third. As the latter absolutely hosed up in the Roland Meyrick at Wetherby on Monday, the form looks rock solid. The drop back in trip should be an advantage, and as he showed that the undulations of Prestbury Park hold no fears when finishing second to Black Hercules in the JLT at the festival in March, he clearly has plenty going for him. A slight concern would be that no animal rated in the one fifties has won since Fondment won off 152 ten years ago, but a literal interpretation of the Rehersal Chase form does make him look well handicapped on 154.
The Paul Nicholls trained 7yo, As De Mee was over 14L behind Bristol De Mai in the JLT at the festival, and meets the Twiston-Davies contender on only 7lbs better terms here, but does look an improved animal this term. He won first time up, at Fontwell in October, and last time looked really good when winning a Class2 handicap over the National Fences at Aintree twenty nine days ago off a mark of 137. However in between, doubts were raised about his affinity for Cheltenham, when disappointing in the BetVictor Gold Cup over the course in November, and indeed he has only managed one placing, (over hurdles) from his four course appearances. Despite this it has to be said that he looked good at Aintree, and as the sole representative of the Ditcheat powerhouse, racing off a mark of 145, he has to be considered.
The 10yo Thomas Crapper is now reaching the veteran stage but does go well here and has won twice over Cheltenham’s smaller obstacles. Fitted with a tongue strap in the BetVictorGold Cup he ran well to finish 6th, 15L behind the winner, and has had a minor soft palate operation since, to aid his breathing. Trainer Dickin, reports him in fine fettle, and with just 10st in the plate, it would come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.
With two wins and three places from his ten course appearances, the redoubtable winner of last year’s race, Village Vic, clearly feels very much at home on the Prestbury Park turf, and is likely to lead them all a merry dance again on Sunday. However he is 14lbs higher than last year, and failed by a neck to defy a 3lbs lower mark in the “BetVictor” in November, and could only manage a gallant third in the “Caspian Caviar” twenty two days ago off Sunday’s mark of 158. While it would be great to see this brave animal prevail, he has it all to do with 11st11bs on his back.
Nicky Henderson’s 8yo Vaniteux has mostly been campaigned at trips shorter than Sunday’s 20f but this winner of two of his six chases looks as if a step up in distance will suit.
Having his first run for seven months he finished a respectable third behind Sire De Grugy and Quite By Chance over 2m1f at Ascot, and put in another solid performance when again finishing 3rd over 2m1/2f here at Cheltenham twenty two days ago. A winner of an Aintree Grade2 chase, this French bred has a touch of class about him, and quite stoutly bred, by Voix Du Nord out of a video rock mare, is likely to enjoy the step up in trip and even off his mark of 154, has to be on the shortlist.
Selection : Vaniteux
E.W. Bristol De Mai