|Cheltenham Tips by Day|
|Day 1 TipsTips for Tuesday 16th March||Day 2 TipsTips for Wednesday 17th March|
|Day 3 TipsTips for Thursday 18th March||Day 4 TipsTips for Friday 19th March|
Historically, this race has been the stuff of folklore, of sneaking into the bottom of the handicap, of qualifying for it without even having to run in a qualifier, of keeping a stone’s improvement up your sleeve, and of gambles – legendary gambles.
Run at 1.55pm on the Thursday on the New Course, the Pertemps Final has changed slightly in nature over the course of time however, and has become the domain of the classy staying hurdler, who is verging on graded class. Indeed, the winners of the last four renewals typify the shift in nature – Presenting Percy, Delta Work and Sire Du Berlais (twice), have all either gone on to contest and win graded races over fences, or in the case of Sire Du Berlais, have a live chance in the upcoming Stayers’ Hurdle.
So, glancing quickly at the market for this year’s renewal, the likes of Imperial Alcazar and The Bosses Oscar are worthy market principles. While of those lower down the handicap, it is clear for all to see that this has been a plan for Champagne Platinum, and he could well have a few pounds in hand. But is he inherently classy enough to cope with those at the top of the weights? I’d have my slight doubts.
There is one horse who has an outstanding profile for the race, and ticks almost every box you need for this race. That is the Henry Daly-trained Honest Vic, who is available to back each-way at 25/1 with Betfred, who are 5 places for each-way purposes, and also ‘non-runner, no bet (NRNB)’.
A somewhat late developer, his last two seasons have been defined by vast improvement, which is down to two things – the application of headgear (most notably a visor) and stepping up to staying trips. It is quite possible Daly has only scratched the surface of his ability over 3m, and a Stayers’ Hurdle entry would perhaps confirm that notion is in the trainer’s mind also. This is why the 25/1 is worth taking with Betfred, who are NRNB.
Honest Vic has had four runs at Cheltenham in his career, and has never run a bad race over the undulations of Prestbury Park. Beaten less than 2 lengths in a handicap hurdle over 2m 4½f in April 2018, he was coming there to potentially win the same race in 2019, when making a hash of the last and losing all chance. It was an uncharacteristic error, as his hurdling is usually fluent and his smaller, nimble nature is well suited to the rigours of Cheltenham.
Honest Vic’s next assignment at jump racing’s HQ was in last season’s Coral Cup, when just done for a bit of pace by Dame De Compagnie et al. over the last, before running on again at the line, and indeed would have been fourth in another couple of strides.
This prompted Daly to go over 3m for the first time on his debut this season in a qualifier for this race at Cheltenham, and he duly delivered a breath-taking performance visually, and on the clock. This demolition job increased confidence that we might see a bold showing in the Long Distance Hurdle against Paisley Park, Thyme Hill and McFabulous. But there was no pace on, and Richard Patrick (knowing he was on a strong stayer) elected to make the running. Not a bad move by any means, but it just made him a sitting duck to better horses.
Kept fresh for this race presumably, after a predictably outpaced showing in a Kempton jumpers’ bumper a month ago, he will love going back to Cheltenham, and has nothing to fear from any of his potential rivals if he’s in the same form as the Coral Cup run, or the course and distance win in October. Therefore, at 25/1 with Betfred, he is way too tempting an each-way proposition to not get involved NRNB.