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The third handicap race of the week is the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, which is a Class 1 race run over 2m 5f and is another competitive race to get stuck into!

This is one of the races at the Cheltenham Festival where the each-way punters will love to get stuck into. In the last ten years, we've had one winning favourite and eight double-figure priced winners, including a 50/1 winner. So if there's ever a race to go for an outsider, this is the one. I know plenty of the daily readers are big into their EW punts, so I'll be keeping a close eye on the comments for your fancies.

Cheltenham 2:50 – Franciscan Rock 40/1 (0.5pt EW, SkyBet 8pl)

This is the second total minefield of the week, and there will be a few more to come. You often see horses plotted out for this race, which isn't a surprise given it's a Cheltenham handicap, but it makes your job as a punter very difficult. The main players of this race will get a mention, so if I don't give your fancy a mention, apologies, but I would be here all day if I were to speak about every horse in the lineup.

Of course, the horses towards the top of the market are the ones which will more than likely tickle most of your fancies, and it's hard to go against that. At the time of speaking Sa Majeste and Built By Ballymore are the ones vying for favouritism and they both have very strong claims. Willie Mullins isn't one for sending novice hurdlers into handicaps like these, so whenever he does, they are going to be well found in the market, especially with Sa Majeste sporting the colours of JP McManus. This horse beat Noble Yeats last time out, the runner-up has since won a race at Cheltenham when seeing off Paisley Park, but Sa Majeste did beat him over 2m 4f, so that does take the shine off that performance as does the third-placed horse who was rated 105 and he was only 9L behind the winner. He could be well handicapped, but at the prices, I'm more than happy to look elsewhere. Built By Ballymore is owned by connections who do very well at Cheltenham, and if their horses don't win, they go close. They had a winner here yesterday who was clearly well handicapped, and they had the runner-up in this race last year for Martin Brassil. This horse looks like a horse who will relish a real test of stamina, he can be lazy, but when hitting top stride he does motor along quite nicely. Cheekpeices have been applied and that could help him stay focussed to the task.

The cheeky devil that is Langer Dan makes an appearance. It is funny how Dan Skelton plays up to the media that this horse has been very poor in training, but in a recent quote, he has said he his training has improved dramatically…how convenient. We all know this horse is aimed at one race per season, and it comes at the Cheltenham Festival. He won this race last year, and Dan has managed to swindle the handicapper to get Langer Dan on last year's winning mark. He is an obvious contender, and none of us would be blown away if he was to win. He is decent value based on the fact that this has been his target since he won the race 12 months ago and Dan Skelton is a master at these hurdle handicaps.

Zanndabad needs to be spoken about as the great master gambler Tony Martin has chucked him into this race at the bottom of the weights, and is officially 4lbs out of the handicap when you take away the rider's 3lb claim. He probably is worth a punt on the basis that Tony Martin trains him and we've seen over the years that he can land handicaps with the least likely of horses. On all known form, he should have no chance, but watch the market.

Somehow, I've managed to talk myself into backing Franciscan Rock, who is one of the bigger-priced runners in the field. Backing horses at big odds doesn't worry me in the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival as we all know every horse is turning up to win the race, and I managed to pick the 50/1 winner of this race in 2022, so it does happen. Mouse Morris has tuned down his runners in Ireland in recent years, so it's eye-catching that he sends this horse to Cheltenham. Mouse is 2/3 this year in the UK, so hasn't been wasting his bullets and I think there are far worse each-way players in this race than Franciscan Rock. If you just look at the numbers (and letter) next to his form, you'd give him no chance, but you've got to say that he does have good pieces of form if you look hard enough. He has finished 2nd to Seabank Bistro and Spillane's Tower. The latter has gone on to become a 145-rated chaser, and beat Blood Destiny in a Grade 3. This horse even went on to finish 3rd in a Grade 1 at Punchestown last April. He was thumped by Gaelic Warrior over 3m, but he went through the race like a horse who is capable of winning good quality races, and I don't think he stays 3m that well, so today's drop-in trip is a big plus. He went chasing this year, which didn't go to plan, but he was running a good race behind Letsbeclearaboutit on his chase debut until falling. That horse is rated 152. You can get 8 places with SkyBet, or go riskier with the other firms for bigger prices.

Related Topic: Racing Tips
1 Comment
  1. bixieupnorth 1 month ago

    nice one thanks, backed it ew so a decent return from 66/1 antepost


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