Horse Racing: Old Guard could threaten in a vintage day at Cheltenham

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OUR racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) looks ahead to a bumper day at Cheltenham on Saturday.

13:45 Cheltenham | ITV4

The Clarence House Chase is rerouted here from the abandoned Ascot card and this is a different test from the usual venue. It’s seen Ar Mad’s attentions diverted but we still have a very good renewal.

Un De Sceaux is odds on to win this and he is a high class horse. He chased home Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase last season and when he stands up he tends to win. He looked like being a superstar at one point in his career and despite being the most likely winner here he is opposable.

Special Tiara is a former Grade 1 winner and got back in to the winning habit last time out. His stable is going really well and is a live threat here to the favourite but he isn’t one of for maximum faith. This is likely to be his main target so he will be fit, but I can’t back him today.

I’m going a little crazy here and backing a huge price runner. Eastlake won over course and distance last time out and this inconsistent performer is of interest at his massive price.

In a race where there are question marks over all the runners I’m prepared to have a small each way bet as he could easily run into a place. By no means am I recommending maximum stakes but he could run well.

14:15 Cheltenham | ITV4

The Cotswold Chase is a Gold Cup trial and it has attracted the Gold Cup favourite and National Hunt royalty that is Thistlecrack. He should win this, and even at odds on he is value, but I’m taking one each way here on the off chance he doesn’t perform.

Smad Place is a fantastic front runner who has been a grand servant to connections, but he falls just short of top class. He won this last year and has to be respected, but at the prices doesn’t appeal to me. He isn’t guaranteed to be left alone in front today and doesn’t strike me as the winner.

Grand National hero Many Clouds was second to Smad Place last season and the Aintree showpiece is his main target this season. He’s held his form well since winning jumping richest race but he is not likely to be fully wound up for this. His stable is having a quiet time and this is a watching brief for me today.

The one I like here is Kylemore Lough. He is yet to prove his stamina over this trip but he is young and in my opinion will stay. He is a Grade 1 winner, gets weight from his rivals and he jumps well. At these prices he appeals as an each way bet, and though the favourite will be tough to beat here could well run into a place.

16:00 Cheltenham | ITV4

The Cleve Hurdle is a Grade 2 3 mile hurdle and a good indication for staying hurdle honours. Ante-post favourite UknowwhatImeanharry lines up and looks a major player here but I’m chancing one at a decent price here.

UknowwhatImeanharry is on a long winning run and is around even money to continue that. He holds most of these on recent form and is still improving. He will be hard to beat and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him but I’m looking for prices today.

Ballyoptic is my ante-post selection for the Stayers hurdle and I expect him to give the favourite most to do today. He stays really well and has a great attitude and I would be disappointed if he doesn’t pick up some prize money. However at these prices he is not for me today.

I’m taking a chance on one here in the form of Old Guard. A multiple winner at the track he fell short at the top level over 2 miles. He has been hit and miss recently but his latest start off top weight in the Lanzarote Hurdle hints he is worth a try at the trip. In a race like this he is worth an each way bet as he has scope for improving over this trip.

Best Bets

13:45 Cheltenham – Eastlake each way (50/1 Ladbrokes)

14:15 Cheltenham – Kylemore Lough each way (20/1 Bet365)

16:00 Cheltenham – Old Guard each way (25/1 Bet365)

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Chris first got interested in betting back in 2000 when he began working in betting shops throughout Scotland. He has remained in the industry ever since, specialising in marketing and PR roles. Outside of betting, his interests are listening to Blur and following Queen Of The South.

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