Friday’s Daily Double – Two 5/1 shots at Cheltenham rolled into this massive multiple

Jon Vine combines his NAP of the day and his Next Best into his Daily Double, covering two races at Cheltenham Friday 13th December.

I managed to land my first winning NAP of the week on Thursday, but sadly my NB couldn’t follow Welsh Saint in to bring up the double. As part of our Daily Tips service, I’ve thrown up this 10/1 double on Thursday. Best odds available here with Bet365.

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Friday’s Daily Double

12:45pm International Decorative Surfaces Novices’ Chase (Class 2) 3m1½f

Pym saw out three miles well enough at Ascot, but 25-and-a-half furlongs around Cheltenham is a completely different prospect and I’m not convinced Henderson’s charge really wants a grueling test like this. Imperial Aura will also carry a penalty, having cantered home unopposed when going off as a 1/25 shot at Fakenham, and Kim Bailey’s charge still has questions to answer over fences.

Stoney Mountain produced a Paisley Park-esque performance to win a Grade Three over hurdles at Haydock and Henry Daly’s charge will be an exciting addition to the novice chasing ranks. On this occasion though, I’d rather side with ROCKPOINT (NB), who ran a cracker behind Wholestone here last month and looks every inch the dour stayer.

Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old impressed during the early months of his novice hurdling campaign, beating Lisnagar Oscar in the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago. Both of his starts over fences have come here at Cheltenham, staying on for fourth behind Mulcahys Hill, before crossing the line less than two lengths behind Wholestone at the Showcase Meeting.

The further they go, the better I think Rockpoint will be, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him running in the National Hunt Chase come the middle week of March.

3:40pm Citipost Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 3m

There’s a chance Kilbricken Storm could be too good for this lot, but the way he ran when returning to hurdling last season remains fairly off-putting. Champers On Ice will only have to carry 11-7, thanks to Kilbricken Storm’s inclusion, and David Pipe’s nine-year-old could be well-placed to seal a hat-trick. I would still rather pin my colours to ASK BEN (NAP).

A poor run in the Albert Bartlett aside, Graeme McPherson’s six-year-old enjoyed a good novice hurdling campaign. I was hoping he’d go chasing in the autumn, but Ask Ben made his reappearance in the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle on Betfair Chase day and ran well for a very long time, only fading back to fourth after a tired leap at the last.

Ask Ben improved with each of his outings during the first half of last season and there’s plenty of reason to suggest he can improve on his current hurdles mark of 136. With many of the runners behind him either unproven over the trip, carrying lots of weight or struggling for form, Ask Ben could be my best bet of the day at 5/1.

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