GRAEME Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) continues his preview of this year's Cheltenham Festival with a handicap pick.
Cheltenham Festival Fancies | 14-17 March 2017
The Coral Cup is one of the most competitive handicap hurdle races of the season and this looks no exception. With a big field guaranteed and plenty of big prices available it's always a major betting heat with it normal for huge gambles to occur on the day of the race.
One owner that is no stranger to a bet on one of his that he fancies is JP McManus who has a really strong looking squad for the festival this year. He has a few lined up for this race currently however I feel one stands out and I've backed him accordingly.
The McManus factor
Modus has run 15 times in his career with three appearances at the Cheltenham Festival to his name already and I think we are only starting to see his real talents now.
He ran twice in the Champion Bumper where he was second to Moon Racer however his novice hurdle career never quite hit the heights expected.
After a couple of wins he finished down the field in the Betfair Hurdle and the County Hurdle at the Festival where he was very disappointing. He looked soft to me and that he didn't enjoy a battle so I was beginning to think he was a lost cause.
He returned this season with some solid efforts in good 2 mile hurdles looking like a new animal who looked a lot more streetwise. He picked up some good place money before Paul Nichols decided to step him up in trip for the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.
This proved inspired as he travelled supremely well through out the race and won impressively. He seemed to relish the trip and looking back on previous runs it seems 2 miles was just a little sharp for him.
It's worth noting how highly rated he was as bumper horse and if this trip can bring out the best of him then he could be better than a handicapper at this sort of trip. He is a huge price for this race and I have taken advantage of the price on offer here.
Graeme Johnstone's Festival Fancies