Here are Friday’s tips.
ANY NEWS (11.30 Cheltenham, 1pt win @2/1)
ANY NEWS has achieved some decent figures in both starts under rules and sets the standard based on his easy success over a well-regarded sort last time out. He has looked a horse with untapped potential thus far and connections bypassed a Grade Two assignment last week, presumably in favour of contesting this much easier event. There should be plenty more to come from this five-year-old and although penalised, he’s taken to prove up to the task and topple David Pipe’s Make Me A Believer who heads the dangers.
L’AIR DU VENT (12.05 Cheltenham, 1pt win @11/4)
L’AIR DU VENT failed to meet expectations over hurdles but has looked natural since going chasing and showed an excellent attitude following on from an eye-catching chase debut to fend off useful opposition last time out at Exeter having jumped well. He has plenty of course form which is a good sign and despite him being officially the lowest rated in the line-up, I’d make him much shorter in the betting, particularly if you take into account that he’s the only last time out winner in the field and is improving at a rate of knots.
FULL TROTTLE (12.32 Doncaster, 0.5pts each-way @16/1)
This is a competitive little event but marginal preference is for FULL TROTTLE, who looks overpriced and was entitled to have come on for the run following a 21-month break when down the field in a better race than this last month. He’s balancing on a lenient-looking mark on the pick of his peak form in hunter chase events. His second behind a 130-rated horse at Cheltenham is good enough form to win this race now down to a mark of 113. Zak Baker is an interesting jockey booking and I’m optimistic about this prolific winner running a big race.
NELSON RIVER (12.40 Cheltenham, 0.5pts each-way @16/1)
There are plenty of positives about top-weight NELSON RIVER that will hopefully conspire him to be competitive. He’s a winner over course-and-distance and ran two good races here towards the beginning of last year, finishing sixth in a Grade Two before running a career-best to finish fourth in the Triumph Hurdle, doing all of his best work at the finish. Admittedly, he’s been set some stiff tasks since, but his latest fourth at Ascot off top-weight revealed that his Cheltenham form was no fluke and he’s well equipped to make an impact from a 2Ib lower mark.
BEAU DU BRIZAIS (15.00 Cheltenham, 1pt win @13/2)
SOME NECK (15.00 Cheltenham, 0.5pts each-way @28/1)
Philip Hobbs is no stranger to success in these events and there’s every chance BEAU DU BRIZAIS could be the next Balthazar King for connections. This eight-year-old tackled these fences for the first time when last seen and ran an excellent race to finish runner-up behind a course specialist. He jumped and travelled with plenty of panache and looked the winner at one stage before keeping on up the run-in to be beaten only five lengths. It’s worth noting some horses don’t take to these fences but he certainly did and in contrast is 5Ib better off with the runner so, with plenty more improvement to come, he appeals as the type to make his mark in this discipline.
Of the rest, the former Willie Mullins-trained SOME NECK was a useful sort before slightly losing his form towards the end of his time at the camp. However, he faced good opposition during his earlier career and chased home Yorkhill on one occasion. He’s a former Grade Two winner, who probably will be more effective on better ground and he took a step back in the right direction to finish third on cross country debut at Punchestown last time out. Undoubtedly, his jumping can be erratic at times but he handled the contours of the fences decently enough last time and first-time cheekpieces should help matters. Therefore, he can’t be ruled out given he’s a horse with plenty of ability and remains unexposed for his age.