Cheltenham Friday tips – Best bets for day one of the Showcase Meeting

The nine Cheltenham Festival handicaps have attracted 654 entries, down slightly on last year.The nine Cheltenham Festival handicaps have attracted 654 entries, down slightly on last year.

Cheltenham Friday tips and best bets at the Showcase Meeting

We pay our first visit of the new jumps season to Cheltenham on Friday for the first of two days’ racing at the Showcase Meeting and our tipping team pick out their Cheltenham Friday tips and best bets for what promises to be a cracking afternoon.

The new jumps season steps up a gear on Friday as we head to Cheltenham for the first time with day one of the Showcase Meeting which promises to be a cracking fixture with some potential Cheltenham Festival candidates making their first foray of the season onto the racetrack.

The day one racecard features seven excellent contests with action both over hurdles and fences and our tipping team has picked out their Cheltenham Friday tips and best bets for the action over the sticks.


1:55 Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f

With Off Your Rocco now a non-runner the way could be clear for CAMPROND to follow up his recent victory in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle and Philip Hobbs’ charge ought to prove hard to beat here.

The Lope De Vega gelding has plenty of experience to call upon and has run to a good level over hurdles, winning at Taunton in March and doubling his tally with a second win at Market Rasen hacing earlier finished third in the Swinton Hurdle.

He got back to winning ways after another couple of placed efforts when running out a comfortable winner of Chepstow’s Grade Two feature race earlier in the month, posting a five lengths’ defeat of Luttrell Lad and a repeat of that should make him a tough nut to crack.


Cheltenham Friday tips. Trainer Philip Hobbs can get the Showcase Meeting off to a winning start.

Cheltenham Friday tips. Trainer Philip Hobbs can get the Showcase Meeting off to a winning start.

2:30 Cheltenham – Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m

The Dan Skelton team have uncharacteristically started the season slowly while Fidelio Vallis has to give away weight all round and had quite a hard race when beaten at Chepstow two weeks ago although he’ll appreciate dropping back in trip.

It might pay though to side with ANY NEWS then who made a decent first impression on his chase debut at Warwick back at the beginning of the month and Neil Mulholland’s charge can build on that first experience of chasing where he jumped well.

The Stowaway gelding was useful last term in a light hurdles campaign, winning at Bangor and rounding off his season with a sixth in the Swinton Hurdle and his chase debut saw him finish just a neck adrift of Beyond The Clouds, unable to hold off the winner between the last two but sticking well to his task to go down only by that narrow margin.

Likely to progress on the back of that experience and with the yard in fair form it is reasonable to think he could do better still and no surprise if he were to make his presence felt.


3:05 Cheltenham – 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) Cl2 (4yo+) 3m

GRACE A VOUS ENKI was a useful chaser in France, winning at Auteuil twelve months ago and subsequently changing hands for a six-figure sum ahead of a move to Paul Nicholls.

The Dream Well gelding was turned over at odds-on when making his hurdles debut at Worcester earlier this month although he was only beaten three-parts of a length by Colorado Doc and with that being his first run in more than ten months he’s expected to strip much fitter with that under his belt.

He did show some promise in that race where he was always prominent and perhaps did too much; but he kept on well and finished clear of the third and there’s likely more to come from him on the back of that performance.

This is a decent race and he’ll need to improve but given he hails from a top yard he may well do so and he can go close here.


Cheltenham Friday tips. Annual Invictus can strike at Cheltenham for trainer Chris Gordon.

Cheltenham Friday tips. Annual Invictus can strike at Cheltenham for trainer Chris Gordon.

3:40 Cheltenham – 888Sport Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (GBB Race) Cl3 (4yo+) 2m4f

Faivoir appeared to be idling late on when beating reopposing ANNUAL INVICTUS at Uttoxeter 19 days ago, but Chris Gordon’s charge can reverse that form here with an 8lbs pull at the weights in his favour.

The Mahler gelding was a three-time winner over hurdles last term and he made a good fist of things in that most recent chase debut where he was beaten around two lengths, staying on well but not having the pace of the winner.

On these terms though and with the stiffer test of stamina expected to suit having won over a similar distance over hurdles then he could improve for that first experience of chasing to make his mark here and he can strike at the second attempt.


4:15 Cheltenham – Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m4f

This is trappy but MULLAGHMORE WAVE could be worth siding with as the Scorpion mare chases a hat-trick of wins.

John McConnell’s charge has improved for the application of cheekpieces, winning at Ballinrobe and Downpatrick more recently and there may be better still to come having appeared to win a shade readily last time out.

That form has taken a couple of knocks and she drops back slightly in trip for this latest outing although the stiff track may help offset any doubts over the distance proving on the sharp side for her.

She’s also significantly up in the weights for her UK debut but it is noteworthy her shrewd yard has opted to bring her here which may well prove significant and she can make her presence felt after a short break.


4:50 Cheltenham – Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 3m1f

DEBDEN BANK has been thriving over the larger obstacles of late, winning his last three since being equipped with cheekpieces and returning from a break here Martin Keighley’s charge can register another win.

The Cacique gelding got off the mark in this sphere when scoring at Southwell last December and he’s since added wins at Worcester and back at Southwell in July where he ran out a comfortable winner from Between The Waters with a seven lengths’ victory.

He’s up a fair bit in the weights for his reappearance but there’s a suspicion he has a bigger performance in him and a wind operation could unlock another level of improvement so every chance he can take this step up in class in his stride to win again under his very capable amateur rider.


Cheltenham Friday tips. Annual Invictus can strike at Cheltenham for trainer Chris Gordon.

Cheltenham Friday tips. Martin Keighley can get amongst the winners at Cheltenham on Friday.

5:25 Cheltenham – Foundation Developments Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) Cl3 (4yo+) 2m½f

TOP BANDIT could bookend the card for Gordon Elliott with a return to winning ways and the Kayf Tara gelding can go close under Davy Russell.

Placed on multiple occasions in bumpers prior to getting off the mark in that sphere at Downpatick last month there was promise on his first hurdles start at Limerick earlier this month when finishing just over one length third behind Stumptown and with that experience under his belt there could be significant improvement to come.

He travelled well into that contest, taking up the running two from home where he was put on the back foot by a mistake and he couldn’t recover sufficient momentum following that error and dropped to third close home.

Despite the defeat he had pulled clear of the remainder and he can improve on that performance to get back on the scoresheet at the second attempt over obstacles.