Finally we can get stuck into some quality jumps racing as Cheltenham thaws out to provide a good looking Friday card.
Peak Festival interest will be in the cross country where the Gold Cup 6th More Of That and the NH Chase winner Tiger Roll try their hand in the obstacle race. Both have the raw ability to feature come March, but giving weight away to specialists here today, the likelihood is that they will be getting a course sighter and not necessarily too worried about placings.
The handicap hurdle (1320) has a punter friendly look, and we are very interested in Okotoks. This horse really caught the eye when finishing well for fourth in a big field at Leopardstown last Christmas when trained by Tony Martin. Martin is a past master at getting his horses well handicapped but had a trying year with stable form last season.
He gave this horse the full Martin treatment when hiding him away after that good run until a valuable race at Punchestown. That didn’t work out with the yard out of sorts but showed some faith in the horse’s ability.
He has now switched to the bang in form yard of Fergal O’Brien. Fergal’s horses are flying, and it looks no coincidence that he pitches this one straight into a valuable Cheltenham race rather than waste his mark in shallower waters. He should go very well.
The closing staying handicap hurdle looks dominated by the form of a recent valuable Haydock handicap in which The Dutchman and Champers On Ice finished near the front albeit well behind budding stayer Sam Spinner.
That was a gruelling event three weeks ago and we prefer the Cheltenham course form of the race won by another budding stayer Thomas Campbell a week earlier. Anteros is up 4lbs for his runner up effort there, but we prefer third home Rocky’s Treasure who not only gets the weight pull but should improve from that seasonal debut.
He was very progressive at the end of last season and that course run suggested there could be more to come this season.
Okotoks, (1320 Cheltenham), 2pts win, 9/2 generally available
Rocky’s Treasure, (1540 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 7/1 generally available
Okotoks & Rocky’s Treasure, 0.5pt each way double, approx 43/1
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