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Horse Racing

Cheltenham – Friday 12th November

Friday 12th November 13:10

WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview for day one of Cheltenham's three-day Open meeting on Friday 12th November.

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Art Approval 13/2 each-way (6 places)
Cheltenham 13.10
Place Bet
An Tailliur 11/2 each-way (6 places)
Cheltenham 13.10
Place Bet
Howdyalikemenow 9/1 each-way (5 places)
Cheltenham 16.00
Place Bet

Date of Tips: 11/11/2021

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (18:46 11/11/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

The two handicaps that bookend Friday’s day one card at Cheltenham’s Open meeting is where I gravitated quite significantly to, at first glance over the declarations.

The 2m handicap chase at 1.45 looks tough to call, though I would love to see Editeur Du Gite take to the undulations of Prestbury Park. As if he does, they might not see which way he went. I can see him looking like the winner for a long way, and then the ultimate test will come with a predicted strong headwind, should he presumably be in front turning in, allied to the stiff climb.

The combination of those two factors has just swayed me enough away from recommending him at 4/1 with William Hill, but like I say, he could trade significantly shorter. For those who like to combine in-running betting with pre-race positions, then he could be a ‘back-to-lay’ proposition.

Passing quickly and peacefully over the two-runner novice chase, the fiendishly difficult Cross-Country, and the 2m5f novice hurdle (in which the only interest could be to back Gelino Bello at 25/1 with William Hill for the 2022 Ballymore Novices Hurdle,) and we are seemingly left with the 1.10 and the 4.00.

In the Markel Insurance Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle at 1.00, the world and his wife will have noticed the recent form boosts of Skatman’s Newton Abbot win, and so it is understandable that he was going to be popular.

However, he is an inexperienced, raw horse who might just find the rough and tumble of a big-field Cheltenham handicap a bit of a culture shock. He could easily prove himself to be very well-handicapped in time, but that doesn’t mean he is definitely going to prove it on Friday.

Instead, it is worth backing the next two in the market each-way against him, with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook, who both offer 6 places.

Art Approval is the main bet at 13/2 each-way with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook, to continue Fergal O’Brien’s and stable conditional Liam Harrison’s rip-roaring recent form.

To the contrary of Skatman’s lack of Cheltenham experience, Art Approval can boast three very good runs at jumps racing’s HQ already, and can go very close to gaining that notch in the ‘W’ column.

The race he finished a never nearer fourth in at Cheltenham’s October meeting was a much better race than this, and he did well to latch on to the coat-tails of the classy trio that beat him home – Guard Your Dreams, Coole Cody and Captain Morgs.

There isn’t anything obviously of that calibre in the 1.10 on Friday, and at 13/2 each-way, Art Approval is overpriced.

The other one to back is the horse that I thought would potentially be vying for joint favouritism with Skatman, and that is the trademark Jonjo O’Neill improving handicapper An Tailliur.

At 11/2 each-way with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook, he is a little skinny to be combining in a two-pronged attack on the race, but the fact that both An Tailliur and Art Approval look rock solid to me, and with the 6 places on offer, it makes sense mathematically to back both. If it were just four places, I would probably think again.

An Tailliur has continued his rapid and prolific rise in two runs this season, and on the evidence (if you could see through the Exeter fog) of his win over Tuesday’s Lingfield winner Khan, he has bucketloads left.

Jumping slightly left, making up ground easily from the rear in a race dictated by those on the front, and then pulling 20 lengths clear with Khan – all means that just a 4lb rise was not only very generous, but means he can still sneak into this 0-125 grade.

Whatever beats the 11/2 shot An Tailliur will win, and here’s hoping that it is the 13/2 chance Art Approval!

The other bet comes in potentially the most intriguing race of the day – the Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at 4.00.

Of the 20 runners, I don’t think there are any that you can 100% discount, and it will surely be the race that on Friday’s card throws up the most winners in time.

A shortlist that included Maninsane, Skippin Court and The Swagman was ruthlessly whittled down on account of those three still being nice double figure odds, but not quite juicy enough, to leave just the one selection – Howdyalikemenow at 9/1 generally each-way for 5 places.

Howdyalikemenow is 10/1 with Bet365 for four places, and also 8/1 with SkyBet for 6 places. So, it’s take your pick which way you want to play it really, but I’ve plumped for middle of the road on both price and place terms.

2 from 2 since joining Evan Williams, I have a sneaky suspicion – allied to visual impression, form analysis and times that are very fast (!!) – that Howdyalikemenow is going to prove much better than this grade, and the rigours of Cheltenham could really suit.

At 9/1 each-way generally, Howdyalikemenow can hopefully sign off a fascinating day with a nice winner.

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