Don't Dodge Bullets at Cheltenham

  • By: Man On The Spot
  • Last Updated: November 15 2012, 14:05 GMT

13.15 Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase

Dodging Bullets (right) is fancied to take all the beating

Carlito Brigante rallied close home to pip Domtaline over C&D two runs ago but was 30 lengths behind the latter's stablemate Unioniste at Aintree next time and looks to have little hope of reversing the form here.

Paul Nicholls' four-year-old looks an exciting prospect but the class act is FINGAL BAY, who looked a little ring-rusty when having to work hard to beat Tiger O'Toole on his chasing debut at Chepstow. He'll have learned plenty from that and should be much more the finished article here and can come out on top. Dynaste and Thehillofuisneach will probably do better when tackling 3m.

13.50 Handicap Chase

Silver Roque ran well off his new mark at Aintree but has gone up a further 2lb since and is no certainty to confirm that form with Kid Cassidy, who was making his reappearance that day.

French raider Wetak could be interesting back over fences after a pipe-opener over hurdles at Ascot while Shooters Wood has gone close in his last two starts and entitled to reverse Kempton running with Lucy's Legend, who is 4lb wrong in the weights here.

ASTRACAD won three times last season as a novice and ran well on all three starts here. He should develop into a smart handicapper this term and may be capable of defying top weight against these. Oh Crick is also useful but usually needs a couple of runs to blow away the cobwebs.

14.25 Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle

This is normally won by a very smart novice and this year should prove no exception. Tominator, a useful staying handicapper on the Flat, wasn't foot-perfect on his hurdles bow at Bangor but won with any amount in hand and can only improve.

Court Minstrel had useful form in bumpers and beat a decent field here on his hurdles bow while Duke Of Navan won by 10 lengths at Newcastle, though was no match for River Maigue in a bumper at Ayr in April. Nicky Henderson's charge should be worth following as he gains experience and the Irish have sent over a strong team with Magic Spear, Run With The Wind and Ted Dolly all recent winners at a fair level.

The fact that DODGING BULLETS failed to win in his first season may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it means he's still eligible for races like this. He took a while to master the race-fit Hi Note and get off the mark here last time but will improve hugely for that run and can put a marker down here.

15.00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

Balthazar King won the big handicap over these fences at The Festival in March and made a successful reappearance over conventional obstacles here last month. He's sure to be thereabouts again but has little in hand on old rivals Wedger Pardy and SIZING AUSTRALIA on today's terms and Henry De Bromhead's cross-country specialist can come out on top today after a pipe-opener over hurdles at Naas.

Orphee Des Blins produced a massive upset in the Velka Pardubicka last month, when Uncle Junior finished sixth, and is a big threat if he's handled the trip over from the Czech Republic while Midnight Haze goes well fresh and could run well at decent odds. Veteran Hello Bud has the past form to figure but it remains to be seen how the former Scottish National winner gets on over these unique fences.

15.35 Irish Times Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

The market should be closely monitored here but the maiden Titan De Sarti must have some sort of chance stepping up in trip as Nicky Henderson has won this in three of the last four year. Angles Hill has been knocking on the door while Adelar and Coffee have both won races recently and are preferred to Akbabend and Cinevator over this trip.

David Pipe trained last year's winner Decoy and has put TOP WOOD into a handicap for the first time. He may not have beaten much at Chepstow in the spring but has plenty of scope for further improvement and could have been let in lightly here, though his long-term future probably lies over fences. Total Excitement looks the best of the Irish while Saint Roque could go close from the bottom end of the handicap.

16.05 Bates Hats Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase

Gordon Elliott has booked crack amateur Jamie Codd to ride Jamsie Hall and the nine-year-old has to go on the short-list in this after following up his fourth in the Kerry National with another good run behind Nadiya De La Vega over an inadequate trip here last month.

There's No Panic and Hunters Lodge are both seeking hat-tricks. The latter may have a better chance of completing a three-timer at the weights while Sizing Santiago has a chance if fully recovered from a heavy fall at Aintree. Aimigayle will ensure there is no hanging about but, like Swing Bill, she lacks a recent run as does Strongbows Legend.

PENTIFFIC has had a stop-start career over fences so far but he undoubtedly has ability and ran a bit better than the final result suggests at Fakenham on his reappearance. He may represent a bit of value here under a very accomplished amateur.