The feature race on the first day of April meeting at Cheltenham on Wednesday, is the valuable Silver Trophy Chase and I am very sweet on the chances of Rene’s Girl who hails from the in-form yard of Dan Skelton. Other fancies are Rather Be, First Assignment and Storm Rising in the handicap hurdles on a competitive seven-race card. Read on to find out all the details on these horses’ chances in my Cheltenham preview with betting tips for April 17.
Rene’s Ready to Rock in Silver Trophy Chase
Rene’s Girl looks on a handy mark at present and decent value at 4/1 with Paddy Power to land the spoils in the Silver Trophy Chase (2.30). This nine-year-old mare, who hails from the in-form yard of Dan Skelton, is a tough and consistent sort who has won three of her eight starts over fences.
She won her first two starts last year in taking style and then ran a cracker when runner-up to Finian’s Oscar in a Grade 1 at the Aintree Festival when getting mowed down close home and beaten two lengths off an official rating of 141.
Rene’s Girl is yet to get her head in front in three starts this season but there was lots to like about her latest effort when a 3 1/4 length second to Lady Buttons in a Listed mares’ chase at Doncaster where jumped well at the head of affairs and kept on well once headed to go down by 3 3/4 lengths.
Lady Buttons has since ran very well in defeat when runner-up in a competitive 13-runner Grade 3 handicap at the Aintree Grand national Festival off a mark of 149. That gives the form a solid look, especially as Rene’s Girl was attempting to give 2lb to Phil Kirby’s star mare.
It makes a revised rating of 144 for Rene’s Girl looks exploitable and she has an excellent strike rate of 60 per cent strike rate over the 2m 4f trip of this. Underfoot conditions are also ideal so this looks a great opportunity for her to get back on the scoresheet.
Rather Be Weighted to Go Well
In the 2m 4f Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle (3.15), Rather Be looks weighted to run a huge race now switched back to the smaller obstacles after failing to shine in three chase outings this season.
This Nicky Henderson trained eight-year-old showed progressive form as a hurdler in 2016/17 when winning three times, landing an ultra-competitive Grade 2 handicap hurdle at Aintree by 1/3 length in the last of those off a mark of 136.
He then had his attentions switched to chasing last season and won two of his four starts Rather Be also ran a very in defeat at this venue when a head second of 18 to Mister Whitaker in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival off an opening chase mark of 143.
The winner, to whom he was conceding 6lb, has since landed a Listed contest at Carlisle before finishing a fine fourth in the BetVictor Gold Cup here in November off a mark of 152, so that gives the form a really solid look.
Rather Be now reverts to to hurdling off a rating of just 140 and it makes him look dangerously well-treated on the pick of his form on ground which is ideal. He has also been given a break since disappointing at Kempton back in February and has an excellent record fresh. So he has more going for him than his odds would suggest and makes plenty of each-way appeal at the 10/1 available with William Hill.
Course Winner First Assignment Appeals Each-Way
First Assignment has some very form in the book and looks worth an each-way wager at 15/2 with bet365 in the 3m Safran Landing Systems Handicap Hurdle (16:25)). This Ian Williams trained six-year-old looked a horse to keep onside when winning his first two starts this season at this venue.
After digging deep to beat Viva Le Roi in a 22-runner contest over 2m 5f, he followed-up in impressive fashion over the 3m trip of this when slamming Boyhood by nine lengths. First Assignment was then turned out quickly by connections under a 5lb penalty and ran a cracker when a 1 3/4 lengths third to Paisley Park in a valuable Grade 3 handicap at Haydock off a rating of 136.
The winner is a very smart sort who has since won a Grade 1 at Ascot and was really impressive when landing the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival here last month to be rated 168.
That gives the form a rock solid look in relation to this class 2 affair and suggests that First Assignment is potentially well-treated off his current mark of 142. This is also easier than his last run when ninth of 24 to Sire Du Berlais in the Pretemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival on ground which may have been too soft and his cause was not helped by a mistake at the last.
The return to a sounder surface is also a plus, so First Assignment looks to have plenty going for him in this under promising 7lb claimer Edward Austin.
Class-Dropping Storm Rising Handicapped to Strike
In the 2m Cheltenham Pony Racing Authority Graduates’ Handicap Hurdle that brings proceedings to a close (5.30), Storm Rising makes plenty of appeal now dropped in class.
Trained by Dr Richard Newland, this six-year-old made a totally mockery of his handicap mark of 123 when cruising to a faciles four length over Magic Dancer at this venue back in October.
He then followed-up in good style at Wetherby and after which he was put up 14lb to 137. Storm Rising was then far from disgraced off his revised rating when ninth of 18 to Nietzsche in the Grade 2 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at this venue and laos ran well when fourth of 15 in a similar grade affair at Sandown when beaten 8 1/2 length by Malaya.
This class 4 contest far easier than those assignments, and the County Hurdle which he ran in at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, and Storm Rising is able to race in it off what looks a competitive mark of 135.
The good ground is also in his favour so at the 9/1 on offer with William Hill, Storm Rising looks decent each-way value in a wide-open 14-runner affair in which a case can be made for plenty.