Cheltenham Festival: Three Tips for Handicaps at the Festival

Cheltenham Festival Runners

We've had a bit of time to digest the Cheltenham Festival handicap entries, and our man Steve Chambers has picked out three horses that are of significant interest to him, and he argues the case for the triumvirate here...

Oscar Elite - Ultima Handicap Chase

Colin Tizzard trained Golden Chieftain to victory in this contest way back in 2013, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer could well taste success in the 3m 1f event again on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, as he could unleash the talented novice Oscar Elite at the 2022 Ultima Handicap Chase. A shock 40/1 runner-up in last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle behind Vanillier, the seven-year-old then went on to finish a decent third behind Ahoy Senor in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree.

Sent over fences this season, he's been unable to get his head in front during his four chase runs, but he has shown significant promise in decent races, and a try in handicap company off an attractive mark should see him flourish on the opening day of the festival on March 15. A faller on chase debut over three miles at Cheltenham, Oscar Elite has since been running over shorter trips, which has arguably not been ideal. He bumped into leading Turners Novices' Chase hope L'Homme Presse in the Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, which was always going to be a tough ask, while last time out he was fifth in a novices' handicap chase at Cheltenham off 137.

A step back up in trip should improve the now 134-rated Tizzard inmate, and while he holds a Kim Muir entry for later in the week, the Ultima looks the perfect race for him to sparkle, and he looks to stand a great chance of at least making the frame in a hugely competitive contest.

Oscar Elite to win the Ultima Handicap Chase (ODDS BOOST)
Odds correct as of 2022-02-27 11:53 Odds subject to change.
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No Ordinary Joe - Coral Cup

Having trained four winners of the Coral Cup since 2010, Nicky Henderson knows what it takes to win the 2m 5f handicap hurdle on the second day of the meeting, and an eye-catching entry on Wednesday was the Greatwood Hurdle third No Ordinary Joe, who could well step up in trip for this event, and is of serious of interest in a hugely competitive contest.

A classy novice hurdler, the Seven Barrows inmate was sent off an 8/1 shot for the Greatwood at Cheltenham back in November, and he ran an almighty race in behind the winner West Cork and the Champion Hurdle hope Adagio, who finished second, and a repeat of that effort would certainly put him on the vicinity. He flopped next time out when pulling up at Ascot, but if he can bounce back to form for the Coral Cup then he warrants a significant look at.

He will need to relax during the early stages of the race, as he's been extremely free, and that was what was testament to his fine third in the Greatwood, as despite pulling hard for most of the event he managed to finish close to the leading two. However, stepping up in distance, the six-year-old will need to settle during the first mile-and-a-half before he can unleash his pace in the closing stages of the contest. While many had believed he'd be County Hurdle bound - myself included - No Ordinary Joe is an eye-catching contender here, if he takes his chance.

No Ordinary Joe to win the Coral Cup (ODDS BOOST)
Odds correct as of 2022-02-27 12:00 Odds subject to change.

Coeur Sublime - Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Henry De Bromhead has a really smart chaser on his hands in the shape of Coeur Sublime, but will the seven-year-old take his chance in the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Trophy or alternatively will he contest the Grand Annual on day two of the Cheltenham Festival? Hopefully, the latter. A current 16/1 chance for the Arkle, Coeur Sublime will face a stern test against the likes of Edwardstone and Blue Lord, who head that market, so it would be great to see him contest the Grand Annual for which he is one of the leading fancies with the bookmakers.

Second in the 2019 Triumph Hurdle, he was unable to land a blow when finishing way back in the 2020 Champion Hurdle, but he's shaped with real promise over fences and looks a potentially top notch chaser. He had the unfortunate situation of bumping into the top class Ferny Hollow in his first two chase starts, with the latter of those two runs coming in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase, where he finished second. However, he broke his duck over fences at the third time of asking with a facile win at Gowran Park, which should give him a real confidence boost ahead of Cheltenham.

The De Bromhead team could be tempted by the Arkle in light of Ferny Hollow's absence, but there's still some really smart performers taking their chance in the Arkle, so the Grand Annual could be the ideal contest for Coeur Sublime, who can outclass his rivals and win on his third visit to the festival on March 16.

Coeur Sublime to win the Grand Annual (ODDS BOOST)
Odds correct as of 2022-02-27 11:57 Odds subject to change.
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Cheltenham Tips
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