RACING boff Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) is our man for the penultimate Day 1 race, the Close Brothers Handicap Chase.
Close Brothers Handicap Chase | Tuesday 13th March 2019, 16:50 | ITV4
The fact there is only 9lb that separates the top and bottom weight in this race makes it an extremely difficult handicap to pick a winner from.
A Plus Tard (7/1 William Hill) currently heads the betting and may well be the best of these in time but the Henry De Bromhead trained five -year-old arrives here rather unexposed, and it may be asking a bit for him to win such a competitive handicap so early on.
RidersOntheStorm (8/1 Betfred) must also be respected and could go well with the services of Brian Hughes, having finished a good second in a Grade 3 novice chase in January. One trend that goes against him here though is that 10 of the last 12 winners of this race all had had run at Cheltenham at least once and due to that I would want to oppose him.
Despite the Irish having a poor record in this race, I think they can win it this year in the shape of the Joseph O’Brien-trained Tower Bridge (8/1 SkyBet) who is available at a best price of 8/1 with SkyBet who are also paying six each-way places.
Despite still being a maiden over fences, I feel like he has a lot more to come, especially with the return to a left-handed track and the addition of cheekpieces.
He is a former Grade 1 winner over hurdles and that form could mean he is potentially very well treated off a mark of 141. He finished a seven-length fifth in last year’s Grade 1 Albert Bartlett behind some smart types and will enjoy returning to Cheltenham.
Close Brothers Handicap Chase – Tower Bridge each-way (8/1 SkyBet)