RACING fanatics Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) and The Voice Of Value share their best bets on the third race of the Festival.
Cheltenham | Tuesday 14:40 Ultima Handicap Chase | Channel 4
24 runner handicap chases at the festival are always going to represent a challenge to find the winner, but that just makes finding it all the more satisfying.
Pendra is the favourite and looks to hold an obvious chance. Third in the race last year, he's only been seen out once this season finishing fourth tiring close home. He is lightly raced but I feel he will again find a couple too good.
The Druids Nephew has looked like a progressive horse this season. Pulled up in the Skybet Chase on his final start last season, he returned 10 months later to smoothly win at Huntingdon before chasing home Sam Winner at Cheltenham.
He then ran in the Hennesy where mistakes put an end to his chance, but he still ran a respectable race finishing seventh. He possibly has the best form on offer, but with a history of jumping to his right I feel this may not be the handicap win he deserves.
This leaves me with the Tony Martin trained Gallant Oscar. He's spent most of his career running in heavy ground in Ireland, but he has never won on it, with his four wins coming on soft. Furthermore his last two victories have come in March, so I see the better ground he will encounter on Tuesday as a huge plus.
His first three starts this season were over hurdles exploiting his lower rating with a win and two seconds, before he was switched to fences in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran. The fact he was sent off favourite to beat Djakadam shows that there was huge confidence behind him, but on truly terrible ground he never threatened the winner coming fourth.
He's not been seen since then, but I have no doubt that Tony Martin will have him spot on for his return. No stranger to landing gambles in big handicaps I have every faith that he will land another tomorrow.
Best Bet – Graham Johnston
Cheltenham 14:40 – Gallant Oscar to win (9/1 BetBright)
I like Mendip Express each way. A fantastic performance in the Becher Chase over the big Grand National fences shows that he is a terrific jumper and also that he will be able to stay this distance.
He ran in a hurdle race last time, and I have a suspicion that there is more to come for this one.
If you go back to January of last year he has also won over this course and distance which is a big bonus for me. Good to soft ground will be ideal and he looks like a bit of each way value in a very tricky race.
Best Bet – The Voice Of Value
Cheltenham 14:40 – Mendip Express each way (13/1 BetBright)