Friday Festival Fancies – Cheltenham Entrants at Bangor & Kempton Aim to Secure Their Spots

Cheltenham Festival Entrants at Bangor and Kempton on Friday

The Cheltenham Festival is edging ever closer, and on Friday, runners on the cards at Bangor and Kempton aim to book their Cheltenham Festival spots. Here at Racing Tips, we’ve assessed their chances of victory for both Friday’s assignments, and their potential Festival races.

Porlock Bay (1.55 Bangor)

A Listed-placed hurdler in France for Francois Nicolle, PORLOCK BAY looked a good purchase for these connections when running out a wide-margin British point winner on stable debut in November 2020.

He subsequently chased home the classy Sametegal at Wincanton, a run that booked his place in the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Sent off a 16/1 shot under Lorcan Williams, Porlock Bay defied the odds to run out a narrow winner of the Festival feature, holding off the challenge of Willie Mullins’ Billaway.

Porlock Bay has had just the one start since, finishing runner-up in a point at Chaddesley Corbett in December.

That showing should have blown away any cobwebs, and he now heads to Bangor on Friday for their John Hewitt Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase – a run that is expected to tee him up nicely for a tilt at retaining his Cheltenham crown, something achieved by the likes of Salsify, On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder in recent years.

Porlock Bay’s main threat for Friday’s race appears to come from Another Venture, who has placed in both starts under the Nicky Henderson name, those coming with the master trainer’s assistant George Daly doing the steering.

That duo maintain the partnership on Friday, yet Another Venture may have to settle for minor money once more should Porlock Bay bring anywhere near his A-game to Bangor.

Elixir De Nutz (2.55 Kempton)

The 2019 Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle winner, ELIXIR DE NUTZ gained his first win since, at the sixth attempt, when making all to land a three-runner novice chase at Plumpton last month.

He received weight from his two main market rivals that day, the favourite being Grade 2 winner Nassalam, and the race acts as a qualifier for a bonus should Elixir De Nutz go on to land a race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Elixir De Nutz holds an entry in the Grade 1 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, for which he currently ranges between odds of 40/1 – 66/1, but after that Plumpton victory connections suggested that the Grand Annual Handicap Chase represented a more likely target for Elixir De Nutz.

He currently holds a chase rating of 135, which is far from guaranteed to get him into the final Grand Annual line-up, so connections head to Kempton on Friday for their 2m2f Bet At Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase in an attempt to secure Elixir De Nutz a place at the Festival.

Although likely to be able to deploy his preferred front running tactics in this small field, Elixir De Nutz bumps into Paddys Motorbike here, who went into plenty of notebooks after running out an 11l winner on chase debut at Fakenham in October.