Black can brighten Cheltenham

Steve Hughes looks ahead to Wednesday at Cheltenham.

We got off to a solid start at the Festival with wins for Footpad (advised evens) and Mister Whitaker (advised 8/1). Rather like yesterday I don’t really have an angle at the featured Champion Chase but there is plenty of other excellent action to have a go at.

Cheltenham 2.10: Black Corton

Perhaps the revelation of the season, Black Corton aims for an amazing ninth win over fences this campaign and on the evidence of his Ascot success last month is showing no signs of going off the boil.

He had previously been campaigned as if he were merely a summer jumper, but such has been his rate of improvement, he has moved into the top bracket of novices and is both a sound jumper and relentless galloper, something that is demanded in this toughest of races.

He is tactically versatile and been given some excellent rides by Bryony Frost this winter. He also has good experience around Cheltenham, winning twice and his form of late has been boosted by the performances of Ms Parfois and Sizing Tennessee in the 4m race yesterday.

Cheltenham 2.50: Burbank

The Coral Cup looks something of a minefield to me, but there was one standout bet in Burbank.

The 6yo started this campaign with two deplorable runs before Christmas, but bounced right back to form with a good third to Jenkins at Ascot last month. He responded well to first time cheekpieces that day and hopefully he is now back to the form of his novice campaign.

That included a 50/1 fourth in the Ballymore at the Festival last season, form that would put him right into the equation from a current mark of 143. For a horse who has run most of his races on flat tracks, his recent effort at Ascot adds further weight to my theory that he is unexposed on stiffer tracks and could be well in today.

Cheltenham 4.50: Look My Way & Eragon de Chanay

This year’s Fred Winter can go to one of two horses that have had the misfortune to take on Triumph Hurdle favourite Apples Shakira here earlier in the season.

First choice is Look My Way, a solid staying handicapper on the flat, but who won by just about the largest winning margin of the whole flat season when sluicing 22l clear of the opposition on his first try on heavy ground at Ffos Las. His jumping form has been solid and getting to within 8l of Apples Shakira here might turn out to be the best form in the race.

Eragon de Chanay was third here in November on testing ground, having already won on atrocious ground at Ffos Las. He again showed his liking for soft when winning just on Saturday at Sandown. The downside of that is he has had only four days recovery. The upside is that he only gets a 5lb penalty (the handicapper will surely put him up more than that) and that penalty is just enough to squeeze him in as the final runner.

Cheltenham 5.30: Blackbow, Nestor Park & Thebannkerkingrebel

This is really the only bumper all season that I get involved in and after careful consideration I have opted for three bets.

The obvious one is Blackbow who looks the pick of Willie Mullins’ five. He lengthened impressively to win at the Dublin Festival meeting at Leopardstown and having won a point won’t be wanting for stamina. His form is probably the best on offer.

Thebannerkingrebel impressed me greatly when I was at Warwick for his debut, making all and simply running away from the opposition. He showed battling qualities to follow up under a penalty at Bangor and might come into this under the radar with his unfashionable trainer/jockey combination.

Nestor Park looks worth a tiny each-way investment at a huge price. He has plenty of experience under his belt including a hard fought win at Ascot, where he more or less made all the running. He was only fifth in the listed bumper at Newbury but that race might make a man out of him and he has a lovely rounded action which suggests he will enjoy today’s ground.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Black Corton – 2.10 Cheltenham – 8/1 Boylesports

0.75pts each-way – Burbank – 2.50 Cheltenham – 18/1 general (¼ odds first 5)

0.75pts each-way – Look My Way – 4.50 Cheltenham – 11/1 William Hill

1pt win – Eragon de Chanay – 4.50 Cheltenham – 12/1 Betfred, Totesport (¼ odds first 5)

1pt win – Blackbow – 5.30 Cheltenham – 5/1 general

1pt win – Thebannerkingrebel – 5.30 Cheltenham – 25/1 general

0.5pts each-way – Nestor Park – 5.30 Cheltenham – 80/1 Paddy Power, BetVictor (1/5 odds first 4)

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