Cheltenham Showcase Meeting Day 1 Tips: Three bets for Friday's action

ITV Racing Tips for Friday's Racing at Cheltenham
ITV Racing Tips for Friday's Racing at Cheltenham

It's the opening day of the new National Hunt season for Cheltenham racecourse on Friday afternoon, and they host a seven-race card, and we have picked out our three best bets for the action at Prestbury Park...

14:30 Cheltenham - squareintheair.com Novices' Chase

Only five will line up for the second race on the card at 14:30, but the quintet should serve up an epic renewal of the squareintheair.com Novices' Chase, and the one to side with is the Dan Skelton-trained chasing debutant THIRD TIME LUCKI. Fourth in the Champion Bumper back in 2020, Skelton's raider then produced some fine efforts over hurdles, which concluded in a fine sixth in the County Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival.

He somewhat disappointed when fourth in the Grade 1 Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree on his last start, but it's now interesting that Skelton has elected to switch from the hurdling sphere and embark on a novice chase campaign with the six-year-old. It will be his fourth visit to Cheltenham racecourse, and he's yet to get his head in front, but having had a wind-op in the summer then he could well finally break his maiden tag at the track on Friday.

He will have some notable rivals taking on him with the Paul Nicholls-trained Fidelio Vallis lining up on the back of a flurry of fine displays over the larger obstacles, but he will have to give a significant 8lbs away to Third Time Lucki, which could prove to be his downfall. Gordon Elliott's Buddy Rich and Neil Mulholland's Any News are another brace of exciting contenders, but both may just lack the pace Third Time Lucki possesses, who can kick off his novice chase career on a winning note.

14:30 Cheltenham - squareintheair.com Novices' Chase
Third Time Lucki silk

Third Time Lucki

won

15:40 Cheltenham - 888sport Novices' Limited Handicap Chase

It could prove to be a successful day for the Dan Skelton team as they can bag victory in the 15:40 event with the in-form Faivoir, who can make it four wins on the bounce. An extremely progressive hurdler last season, which included a win at Cheltenham's April meeting, FAIVOIR made no mistake when claiming glory on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter earlier this month.

He outclassed the Chris Gordon-trained Annual Invictus that day at the Staffordshire track, and that pair will lock horns once again when they do battle at Cheltenham. Faivoir will have to give 8lbs away to Annual Invictus in this second duel between the pair, and Gordon's charge is likely to enjoy the slight step up in trip, but Faivoir was much the best in that Uttoxeter event, and was arguably idling in the closing stages.

Paul Nicholls will saddle an eye-catching chasing debutant in the shape of Danny Kirwan, who has some smart form over hurdles, while Martin Keighley's On The Lash adds more depth to the race, but ultimately it could be Faivoir that can prove to be a cut above his rivals here and can hand Skelton more glory.

15:40 Cheltenham - 888sport Novices' Limited Handicap Chase
Faivoir silk

Faivoir

lost

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16:50 Cheltenham - Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase

Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Hunters Lodge to back-to-back victories in this event in 2012 and 2013 and the Naunton-based handler can return to the winner's enclosure once again with REDFORD ROAD, who can defy top-weight in what is the most competitive race on the entire card on Friday afternoon.

A former Grade 2 winner of a 3m novices' hurdle at Cheltenham in his younger days, Redford Road has failed to kick on from those promising days, and he's still yet to break his chasing duck after four outings over the larger obstacles. However, he's been give a huge chance by the handicapper to break the chasing hoodoo, as he's 5lb lower than his last mark, and his mark of 127 looks workable indeed.

Last seen running over hurdles in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival, Redford Road failed to finish, so Twiston-Davies has elected to return to the chasing sphere, and even if he can recapture any of his novice hurdle form then he looks to be attractively handicapped to score in style.

The main dangers are likely to be Marquis Of Carabas, who returns after a 900-day break, and he has been eased in the handicap and has a chance on his best form, while Debden Bank and last year's winner Bermeo add more depth to a race that can head the way of the Twiston-Davies yard.

16:50 Cheltenham - Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase
Redford Road silk

Redford Road

lost
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