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4.50 National Hunt Chase
Tuesday 16 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £125,000
The National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase is the second-oldest race at the Cheltenham Festival, but has actually been run the most number of times because the Grand Annual Handicap wasn’t run for a large period of the late 19th century.
I've just had to delete a few hundred words about Royale Pagaille and how he is the bet of the week and will win this race on the bridle etc etc.
He has not been declared for this and now goes for the Gold Cup on Friday. More on that in a few days time but I think they will go too fast for him there and it is the wrong choice in terms of wanting to win a race.
However, the Ricci family own the horse and have never won a Gold Cup despite winning a sack full of races at the festival so if they think they have a squeak I can completely understand it.
I wouldn't be surprised if Rich Ricci bought a few crop-dusters and sprayed water over the track under cover of darkness on Friday night.
I think proper soft ground would be Royale Pagaille's only chance of staying the pace with them and being there at the end.
Anyway, I should probably say something about the National Hunt Chase shouldn't I?
The one that I like now is REMASTERED who is an improving horse that I thought might have gone for the Ultima handicap on Tuesday rather than this.
I thought he won really nicely last time out in the Reynoldstown at Ascot, beating De Machine for stamina and settling things with a great jump at the last.
They had the rest strung out in behind and I think he could still have plenty more to offer. He has now been declared for this and the way he jumped and travelled well last time suggests to me that he will probably be ok with this marathon trip.
Galvin is the obvious danger but I do think he is vulnerable to an improver like Remastered.
It's also worth mentioning that I think Snow Leopardess is a bigger price than she should be for this, especially with the 7lb mares' allowance that she receives.
If anyone is looking for a second choice in the race she would be my choice.
Voice of Value's NH Challenge Cup Tip
- Remastered 2pt ew at 8-1 with Paddy Power (paying 4 places)
NEXT DESTINATION, a prolific winner in Ireland for Willie Mullins, has won both his starts over fences for Paul Nicholls and rates a knocking bet.
He gave 5lb and a beating to useful Fiddlerontheroof at Warwick and has posted two solid efforts at previous Cheltenham festivals, running fourth to Fayonagh in the 2017 Champion Bumper and going one place better behind Samcro and Black Op in the 2018 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Escaria Ten clocked a decent time when scoring by 20 lengths at Thurles and poses a threat along with another Irish challenger Galvin, not seen since completing a four-timer at Cheltenham in October and likely to start favourite.
Lord Royal ran well at Navan and should be thereabouts.
Thommo's NH Challenge Cup Tip
- Next Destination 7/2 (Casumo)
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