Cheltenham Open Meeting day 1 preview
Handy Andy won this last year and made a promising seasonal debut at Chepstow last month. He is just preferred to Venetia Williams Carlisle winner Ballyoliver and Mister Grez who looks on a handy mark.
Karinga Dancer has a touch of class and is relatively unexposed over fences and Festive Fair will be a danger if fit on his reappearance. However Next Sensation will be sharper for his recent Ascot run and can win this from the front.
Colour Squadron keeps threatening to win a chase but is up against a number of horses who looked sure to step up once put over fences. Splash Of Ginger sets the standard but both Urban Hymn and chase debutant Champagne West may have more scope. The latter is just preferred. Last years Greatwood winner Dell’ Arca is another serious contender in the most competitive novice chase of the season to date.
Blaklion won many admirers when winning a Grade 2 at Chepstow but it might be worth sticking with Minella Present after two powerful wins at Uttoxeter to step up in class and provide some consolation for his stable following the The Young Master debacle.
Balthazar King has rightly become something of a legend a status cemented by his second in the National. He loves this Cross Country Course and will be a warm order to see off the likes of Any Currency who ran him agonisingly close at the Festival.
Cup Final may just possibly be thrown in but is a short price for a Cheltenham handicap and Cassells Rock under Ruby Walsh looks a more solid option after his 3rd at Galway last month. However River Deep is on the upgrade and is worth an each way punt for the Hobbs/Johnson combo.