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2.30 Ultima Handicap Chase
Tuesday 16 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £110,000
The Ultima (Festival Trophy) Handicap Chase is a Grade 3 National Hunt steeplechase handicap and is one of the big betting races on Day One of the meeting. Open to horses aged five years or older, the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase is run on the Old Courseover a distance of about three miles and one furlong (3 miles 1 furlong).
To my eye this year's renewal of the race doesn't look quite as competitive as normal.
At the time of writing Lieutenant Rocco has been scratched from the race leaving Happygolucky as the clear market favourite.
I do like the chances of that one and both Kim Bailey and David Bass seem confident about the horse's chances but I've missed the price now and 100-30 isn't appealing in a Cheltenham handicap.
Aye Right is another one who looks like he has a decent chance and if you take his form behind Cloth Cap literally he could be well in at the weights, albeit he hasn't won in his two runs since then.
I was keen on Remastered but he hasn't been declared for the race in the final declarations as I write on Sunday morning.
The one I now fancy at the prices is MILAN NATIVE, a name who might be familiar to some of you from last season's Kim Muir where he won nicely.
Cheltenham form is of course a huge factor and in this less competitive renewal of the Ultima I think he will go really well.
He hasn't been hammered by the handicapper and has been campaigned sparingly this year. I hope that was to keep his mark down for a return to the festival.
Jack Kennedy is jocked up which is definitely a positive and I can see him running another huge race, probably settling in just behind the leaders like Aye Right and then pouncing between the last couple of fences.
Voice of Value's Ultima Handicap Tip
Kim Bailey and David Bass are enjoying a stellar season and the senior trainer landed this prize back in 1999 with Betty’s Boy.
He saddled Vinndication to finish fourth under top weight last year and Happygolucky flies the flag this time round. The trainer clearly earmarked this prize at an early stage, as the gelding hasn’t been seen since landing a 3m 1f novices’ chase on the New course here in December.
Happygolucky stayed on into fourth in last year’s Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle, so isn’t devoid of speed, and goes well fresh.
Harriet Graham’s Scottish raider AYE RIGHT, a sure-footed jumper, chased home Cloth Cap in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and posted a highly creditable fifth to Champ in a red-hot RSA Chase 12 months ago.
He only yielded close home in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on his latest start and despite being nudged up the ratings, Aye Right has to be a serious contender.
Milan Native landed the Kim Muir here 12 months ago and cannot be safely ruled out, despite struggling to find peak form.
One For The Team didn’t cut the mustard in the Sky Bet Chase but hadn’t been disgraced previously behind smart types like Shan Blue and Next Destination.
Thommo's Ultima Handicap Tip
- Aye Right 11/2 (Casumo)
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