Simon Holt picks out two selections for Cheltenham on Saturday, including the consistent mare Happy Diva in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
There are few more consistent horses in training than the Kerry Lee-trained mare HAPPY DIVA who can gain a deserved big-race win in the Bet Victor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The eight-year-old has finished in the first three on all her completed starts over fences and one of her two non-completions came in this race last year when she was travelling well until brought down at the final ditch (four out).
Otherwise, Happy Diva's form at Cheltenham looks really positive: she was just touched off over a too-sharp two miles here in April having previously chased home the smart Aso on the New Course in January.
Considering Aso is now rated 10lb higher (having gone on to finish second in the Ryanair), that was a splendid effort and, off just 3lb higher, Richard Patrick's mount does not look badly handicapped even considering a 1lb rise for chasing home Guitar Pete (now 5lb worse off) on her recent reappearance at Wetherby.
The latter likes Cheltenham too having been a distant third in this race 12 months ago and being a past winner (probably fortuitous) of the December Gold Cup but can sometimes get too far behind round here.
With form on deep ground, a fighting weight (Patrick takes off 3lb) and a clear liking for the course, the prominent racing and sound-jumping Happy Diva looks worth an interest at double-figure odds.
As befits this historic handicap, it is hugely competitive with the progressive Siruh Du Lac, unbeaten in four starts last season and tasked with defying a 9lb rise for his Festival win in March, a leading candidate while Count Meribel appeared to run well behind the smart Lostintranslation on his Carlisle reappearance and is another horse who likes this course.
Likely favourite Slate House couldn't have been more impressive here in the heavy ground at the October meeting but has gone up 12lb, faces much tougher opposition and, for all his evident talent when right, doesn't look great value.
In the Spinal Injuries Association Big Buck's Handicap Hurdle, the tremendously gutsy Tobefair seeks a course hat-trick after following up his April win in heavy ground at the October meeting.
Debra Hamer's gelding, who also chased home Sire Du Berlais in the Pertemps Final at the Festival last March, would prove a highly popular winner but he's up to another career-high mark and may struggle to concede 18lb to the novice THE BUTCHER SAID.
Ollie Murphy's gelding rattled up a four-timer in modest novice hurdles on good ground during the summer but, returning from a break, proved he can handle a much deeper surface when chasing home smart chaser Ramses De Teillee here last month.
Considering The Butcher Said was trying to concede 8lb to a horse rated 146 over hurdles and 153 over fences, I thought he ran a remarkable race and, off just 136 here, he could be thrown-in.
Posted at 1245 GMT on 15/11/19.
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