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2.10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
Thursday 17 March | Age: 5yo+| Prize: £56,270
The Pertemps Final is another typically competitive handicap race at the Cheltenham Festival. This Grade 3 (formerly a listed race) is run on the New Course over three miles.
This race is such a minefield, and you could make a case for nearly all the runners, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to just a couple of selections, fingers crossed they go well.
Gordon Elliot is a bit of a master when it comes to targeting this race, winning it 3x in the last four years, which includes a runner-up in the same race he won, and many good efforts in between. He is the man who I’ll be siding within this race, for obvious reasons.
SIRE DU BERLAIS is a bit of a Cheltenham specialist and a specialist in this race. He managed to win this race back-to-back in 2019 and 2020. His 2019 win was pretty sensational, as Barry Geraghty gave him one of the best rides I have ever seen. That phrase gets chucked about quite a lot for bang average rides, but if you get the chance, to watch that race back, it was a sublime ride. Barry seemed to get the best out of this horse, so it is a slight concern that he is now retired and a 7lb conditional jockey takes the reigns. Despite the 7lb claimer is taking the ride, I’ll be backing him each way again for this. He’s taken the same route as the 2020 win in this race, using the Warwick qualifier as a springboard, and comes here fit and fresh. He is the class horse in the race, shown by the fact he is carrying top weight and finished 2nd in the Stayers’ Hurdle last year. He will be delivered late.
My second play in this in at the total opposite of the weights compared to Sire Du Berlais, and that is DUNBOYNE. This horse has been prepped like a genius for this race in my opinion. The fact he has managed to get this horse in at the bottom of the weights is brilliant. He has travelled through his races like a well-handicapped horse, but on the last two occasions, he has either made an error or has suffered interference. Without those mishaps, he would’ve gone close, but still, I don’t think they would’ve gone for everything in those races, as they’ve had this race in the back of their heads, so have tried to keep his handicap markdown. This could be one of the handicap plots of the meeting.
A British trained horse hasn’t won this race since 2015, so it’s fair to say they have got a challenge to win this. However, of those who are from Britain, ALAPHILIPPE looks to be one of their strongest. He contested the Warwick race which Sire Du Berlais was in, and it looks like they were saving something back from this horse, he is an EW player for the Cheltenham based trainer, Fergal O’Brien. BALLYANDY is up there for being one of the class horses in the race. This horse put me in my place the other week when he battered my selection at Chepstow in a qualifier for this and based on that run, he still has the ability to run a big race at the age of 11. He gets Finn Lambert’s 10lb claimer took off him, so has to be respected at a track he once won the Champion Bumper at.
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