WONDERFUL Charm, a 5yo, was last seen winning a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Chepstow in October (2m4f, good to soft) when coming clear by 6l. Master Of The Sea (has less to prove on the fitness side having won a decent handicap at Newbury (3m, soft) in February. That 4l victory made it four straight victories for the in-form 6yo, and the fact he displays so much speed (won over 2m6f the time before), makes him an ideal candidate. Orsippus, trained in Northumberland by Michael Smith, was placed in both the 2010 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and the 2011 Coral Cup before missing the Festival last season. He has tasted glory in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting among his five career wins, two of which have been on the Flat since his last trip to Cheltenham.
Tennis Cap won his second handicap of 2013 at Leopardstown in February (2m, soft). This 6yo did make every yard in both those wins.
Apart from being bang in form, winning his last four, Master Of The Sea has been gradually upped in trip and his last win was over 3m on soft ground, meaning he has plenty of stamina.
Pendra has proven himself on good ground when winning a bumper 12 months ago, and the progress made in three hurdle runs since make him a contender
Fiveforthree won the Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle over the same trip as the Coral, back at the 2008 Festival. Since then he’s been injury prone and hasn’t run since the World Hurdle 2 years ago. He has a very good record fresh, winning all 4 times he’s appeared on the racecourse having not run for at least 6 months.
Son of Flicka was first in this very race last year, while the year before he had been runner-up in a different Festival handicap.
Dark horses? Cotton Mill, Black Thunder and Inish Island deserve a mention.
Races like the Coral Cup are traditionally won by unexposed types, up-and-comers, and it’s very hard to pick a probable winner. There’s a lot of contenders who can run and win this race!