Our racing team and pundits, including Oli Bell, Ed Chamberlin, Simon Holt, Mike Cattermole and Alex Hammond have their best ante-post bet for the new jumps season.
MIKE CATTERMOLE - TRAFFIC FLUIDE (Sky Bet 6/1 Sodexo Gold Cup)
Why wait until the spring to get a return? Follow Traffic Fluide this season and back him at around 7/1 for this Saturday's Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot. This is a smart chaser who has become dangerously well handicapped and returned to form with a fine second at Chepstow behind another extremely well treated horse in The Young Master, to whom he was trying to concede 20lb. Gary Moore will eventually line him up for one of the big Cheltenham handicaps in March (14/1 with Sky Bet to win any handicap at the Festival). Likes good ground but also acts on much softer.
BEN LINFOOT - ELEGANT ESCAPE (Sky Bet 12/1 Ladbrokes Trophy)
Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape looks your archetypal Ladbrokes Trophy horse and appeals at around 12/1 a month before the contest. One of the best staying novices from last year, he rounded off his campaign with two placed efforts in Grade Ones in the spring including a third behind Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. With the winner expected to take the Gold Cup division by storm it looks really good form and he backed up the effort at Aintree, where he would’ve finished closer but for mistakes late on. However, he can cut out those errors at Newbury over the Ladbrokes Trophy trip, as he looks a thorough stayer and has winning form at the track. Also, his handicap mark of 151 looks the sort that a talented second-season novice can exploit and I’d definitely put him in that category. Tizzard gave his last Hennessy winner, Native River, a spin over hurdles before his big win at Newbury and it would be no surprise if Elegant Escape took the same route.
SIMON HOLT - TERREFORT (Sky Bet 7/1 Ladbrokes Trophy)
Terrefort is favourite ante-post for the Ladbrokes Trophy but 10/1 is available and, after his fine second at Cheltenham and victory at Aintree over an extended three miles, he looks made for a race trainer Nicky Henderson has won three times. Of course, the stable also has last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite, but victory at Newbury could put Terrefort in the reckoning for the big one in March and a small bet at decent odds could be an intriguing prospect during the winter.
ED CHAMBERLIN - LAURINA (Sky Bet 8/1 Unibet Champion Hurdle)
It's been an exciting week for the two-mile hurdling division with news Samcro is to stay over timber but it's another of last season's star novices that appeals to me as an ante-post bet for the Unibet Champion Hurdle. Laurina dominated the mares' novice division last term, winning at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse, and has a serious amount of ability. I love the way she travels and quickens to order and she's going to take high rank in against the boys this term.
ALEX HAMMOND - PRESENTING PERCY (Sky Bet 5/1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup)
Presenting Percy - wherever he turns up is my advice as last year’s RSA Chase winner looks destined to take top rank in the staying chasing division. I think he'll progress all campaign and be a massive player in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup come March.
DAVID ORD - MENGLI KHAN (Sky Bet 14/1 Racing Post Arkle)
Gordon Elliott's charge was among last season's leading novice hurdlers, finishing third in the Sky Bet Supreme.He'd have gone close to winning at the Punchestown Festival too but for a mistake at the last. He goes chasing this term and is the sort to mop up the good novices in Ireland before heading over to Cheltenham in March. He goes through his races well and has a good turn of foot. Of those around him in the Arkle market, Samcro, Melon and Laurina look set to stay over hurdles. It looks a division he can play a big hand in.
OLI BELL - TORNADO FLYER (Sky Bet 16/1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle)
This is a horse I absolutely love. I backed him for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he ran a huge race to finish third behind Relegate, having looked the likely winner approaching the final furlong. He signed off for the campaign with a good win in a Grade One at Punchestown, showing great resolution. He's a very exciting recruit for the hurdling ranks. I think two-and-a-half is going to be his trip this term and all roads will hopefully head to the Ballymore. I'll be following him wherever he goes.
MATT BROCKLEBANK - CLAN DES OBEAUX (Sky Bet 20/1 Betfair Chase)
All the big names are entered up for the Betfair Chase but it can soon change and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the race cut up. One potential springer in the next few weeks is Clan Des Obeaux, representing Paul Nicholls who has a record six Betfair Chase wins to his name already. The six-year-old still has room for improvement as a staying chaser, while his Haydock record reads one from one having scored there by seven lengths on heavy ground last November. He’s already rated higher than Silviniaco Conti was going into his first Betfair, and a positive prep run this weekend would surely see his odds tumble.
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