Cheltenham Festival – Festival Plate: Nicholls could get off the mark in competitive Plate

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Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is on hand to look over the always-difficult Festival Plate on Day 3 of the Festival.

Cheltenham 16:10 | Festival Plate | ITV1

A two and a half mile chase, this is likely to be run at a strong pace and I feel stamina is likely to be just as important as speed in this race. Another big field handicap and again I’m going to split my stakes on two at prices.

I love Village Vic. He is a fantastic front runner who jumps for fun and is the likely pace angle here. He is remarkably consistent and has stacks of form at the track but I get the feeling on this surface he may not be able to take the sting out of the field today and this is likely to see him struggle late on.

Starcitech has only had three starts over fences and is gradually getting to grips with the discipline. A smooth winner last time out this is a very different test to his his previous chases however he has plenty of experience from his hurdling days. He’s ran with distinction twice at the festival and for connections that do well here he has to be respected.

Diamond King won the Coral Cup last season and after a solid debut over fences he’s been found wanting in Graded company since. He remains unexposed and is certainly of interest given his stables form thus far however in a field of this size I’m once again looking for a bigger priced selection.

The selections

Tango De Juilley was second in this race last season and there is every reason to believe he will run another huge race here. Apart from being outclassed in the JLT his chase form is remarkably consistent and he is still unexposed.

His run last season came on the back of a huge break so there is no reason to worry about his lay off. With the yard flying I plan to back him to go one better than last year.

Bouvreuil joined the Paul Nichols yard early in 2015 and on just his third start was second in the Fred Winter at the festival. At that point he looked a horse to follow however on his nine subsequent starts he has only won once. Saying that he has run well at the festival twice and this has been his target all season long. I expect him to run a big race and hopefully get the festival win he deserves.

Best Bets

Festival Plate – Tango De Juilley each-way (20/1 10BET)

Festival Plate – Bouvreuil each-way (12/1 10BET)

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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