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Punters looking for Cheltenham Festival clues will be watching Saturday’s action at jump racing’s HQ with one eye on the fun to come in March, writes The Investor. The biggest betting race of the day is the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup and this is a typically top-class field.
Our Vic deserves his place at the top of the betting. He was a high calibre hurdler and looked to be heading to the top of the jumping code last season before falling at the last fence in this race last year. That seemed to knock his confidence. But he came back with a bang by scoring in the Paddy Power Gold Cup here last month.
However, he is priced at 11/4 and the rest of the field is 6/1 and bigger. This is surely a race to play each-way. Fondmort fits the bill. He loves Cheltenham. Nicky Henderson’s charge won this race in 2002, the Paddy Power in 2003 and was within a head of Thisthatandtother in the inaugural Daily Telegraph Chase over course and distance at the Festival last term. Fondmort is weighted to reverse form with that rival, and whereas he gave 5lbs to Our Vic in the Paddy Power he is now weighted 11lbs better off for an eight-length defeat.
Henderson’s horses are in a rich vein of form and the word from the Seven Barrows yard is that the nine-year old is at the height of his powers.
The next race on the card, the Bula Hurdle, is still the best Champion trial. Harchibald has been called many rude names, not least in the Champion last year, when he looked the winner only to be denied by Hardy Eustace. Jockey Paul Carberry probably deserved the brickbats that day and he certainly did when going for a non-existent gap on the rails in Harchibald’s last race. But the suspicion has always been that this is the most talented hurdler in training. Back Harchibald to prove it on Saturday.
Cheltenham selections: 2:40 – Fondmort (each-way) 3:15 – Harchibald (win)