Assignment can come first

Steve Hughes provides his best bets for Thursday at Cheltenham

Another cracking card with two competitive feature contests. However I am looking elsewhere for today’s bets. Headline selection Band of Outlaws got us off the mark yesterday (advised 11/2), with Ciel de Neige also placing for the each-way bet (advised 9/1 in the same race.

Cheltenham 1.30: Defi Du Seuil

It stands 1-1 between Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation on head to heads over fences and I think the former Triumph Hurdle winner can strike the decisive blow when it most matters.

After a spell in the wilderness, Defi has bounced right back to form and is a very athletic jumper of fences. Possibly outstayed here on New Years Day, he was given a more patient ride by Barry Geraghty in a Grade 1 at Sandown last time and beat Lostintranslation for speed. I think that represents the best form in the race and I expect Geraghty to come late again to pounce up the hill.

Cheltenham 2.10: First Assignment

Master trainer Ian Williams looks to have plotted an excellent path for First Assignment en route to a tilt at the Pertemps final this afternoon.

The 6yo was extremely lightly raced coming into this campaign and began it with two wins in big fields here, the second decisively at the November meeting. He then finished within 2l of Paisley Park at Haydock despite being turned out just a week later.

Given a break he then returned in the Warwick qualifier in January. Travelling and jumping well throughout, he just got outpaced turning for him. However the main mission of finishing in the first sixth to make the final was accomplished and there is no doubt he will be sharper today, whilst a return to this stiffer track is perfect from the same mark as Warwick.

Cheltenham 5.30: Measureofmydreams

Having his first run for Gordon Elliott and his first run anywhere for two years it is fair to say Measureofmydreams performance on comeback at Fairyhouse last time was “eyecatching”.

Never really put in the race he kept on pleasingly into third and won’t have had a hard time, whilst getting fit for today. After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign with Noel Meade this horse is down to a very fair mark of 137, 9lbs lower than the previous season. If he can get anywhere near the sort of form he showed in his younger days with Willie Mullins (3rd in the 4m race here) he looks thrown in today.

Recommended bets:

1.5pts win – Defi Du Seuil – 1.30 Cheltenham – 100/30 Ladbrokes

1pt each-way – First Assignment – 2.10 Cheltenham – 12/1 Bet365, Betfred (¼ odds first 5)

1pt win – Measureofmydreams – 5.30 Cheltenham – 9/2 general

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