Plenty of usual suspects face the starter in the latest of what is fast becoming a pre-requisite handicap chase over 2m5f at every Cheltenham meeting. This one is sponsored by Victor Chandler and champion trainer Paul Nicholls once again provides the top weight in The Nightingale (a general 14/1) and a fancied runner further down the weights in the shape of Ghizao.
Ruby Walsh rides the latter so it’s fair to presume he is the stable selection. Bookmakers and punters certainly think so and the eight-year-old, who beat subsequent Arkle Chase winner Captain Chris twice as a novice, is only a general 6/1. He hasn’t run badly in either start this season but never really jumped with any fluency behind Quantitiveeasing over C&D last time and has ground to make up on Calgary Bay on that run.
Henrietta Knight‘s gelding usually runs well at Cheltenham but hasn’t won for a while. But that could all change in this New Year feature if he can lie up with the pace as he’ll be reeling in the front-runners up the hill. At 8/1 with most layers, Calgary Bay looks a cast-iron each-way bet and Duke Of Lucca should also be in the firing-line. Novices don’t have a great recent record in this contest but Philip Hobbs’ charge could be the exception that proves the rule. A very decent hurdler over this sort of distance, he spread-eagled an ordinary field at Wincanton after a couple of sighters and, though his jumping will be put under pressure by these experienced handicappers, it would be no surprise to see him go close at Boylesports and Stan James‘ 6/1.
Crescent Island (14/1 with Boylesports) and Hector’s Choice (20/1 with Victor Chandler) look closely matched on Newbury running behind Chance Du Roy and are capable of making their presence felt but it would need a giant leap of faith to support Cape Tribulation (21/1 on betfair) after he was pulled up early on at Haydock two weeks ago and the bottom six on the racecard are all carrying more than their allotted weight. The best of those may be Havingotascoobydo, who has been placed twice over shorter trips at Cheltenham recently. He can be backed at 7/1 with Skybet and William Hill, though his jumping can still be a little novicey at times. Hell’s Bay won a big prize last season but was pulled up when favourite on his reappearance at Ascot, hence his 14/1 quote from Betfred, Boylesports and totesport. Calgary Bay is taken to land the spoils with Duke Of Lucca to chase him home.
- Calgary Bay to win the Bet With Your Mobile at Victor Chandler Chase at a general 8/1
- Duke Of Lucca to win the Bet With Your Mobile at Victor Chandler Chase at 6/1 with Boylesports and Stan James