Festival Handicap Tips: Take Alnadam to give the Skeltons Ultima prize

Festival Handicap Tips: Dan Skelton saddles fancy Alnadam
Festival Handicap Tips: Dan Skelton saddles fancy Alnadam

Ultima Festival Chase Tip

Alnadam at 12/1 with Bet365

The Ultima Handicap kicks off the handicap programme for the week and it wouldn’t be Cheltenham without it being an intriguing puzzle. Kim Bailey went into last years’ contest with a well-fancied runner in Stayers Hurdle chance Vinndication, and this year is no different as he aims to win the race for the first time since 1999. 

Happygolucky is the horse tasked with kicking off a potentially big week for Kim Bailey and his claims are obvious. He’s got numerous bits of strong course form over both obstacles and posted a career best last time, upped to a similar trip on the New Course, when winning a novice chase by three-and-three-quarter lengths from a useful yardstick. He was put up 5lb by the handicapper for that but he was idling on the run in, promising more to come.

Cepage tops the weights a career-high mark of 158 courtesy of a 14-length romp at Chepstow back in January but the winning margin was probably exaggerated due to the heavy ground. He has since found the Denman Chase too hot, but it did offer encouragement of him staying this longer trip with him being outpaced before staying on again on similar ground to what he’ll face on Tuesday. He ticks a couple of boxes needed for this but his handicap mark looks high.

Harriett Graham will make the long journey down from her Scottish base with her stable flag-bearer, Aye Right. He’s been consistently knocking on the door in hot contests all season - finishing a seven-length third to Cyrname in the Charlie Hall before being ‘best of the rest’ behind runaway Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloth Cap, the form of which was boosted recently. His latest performance in the Sky Bet Chase can be upgraded given his rider dropped his whip and he was only just out-battled in the finish and now with Richard Johnson on board, he looks to be another with a good chance and is deserving to win a race of this nature.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Nick Williams saddles One For The Team in his bid to win this race again after his success in 2018, but his charge looks to be up against it. He was further back behind Aye Right last time and it would be a big performance to break his maiden tag over fences. 

Alnadam lines up for the Skelton brothers after an authoritative success over 2m4f at Sandown on his first attempt in open company over fences. His only blip this season came on fast-ground at Kempton, a mixture of both contributed to that race not suiting him. He is a Point-to-Point winner from 2018 so the extra distance is a question mark, but shouldn’t hold too many fears, he’s a lively contender on the upgrade and given that the Paddy Power Plate over 2m4f would have been a more obvious route, connections must have faith that the stamina test will unlock more improvement.

Vintage Clouds has posted two good efforts in this contest in the last two years and after making a reappearance after wind surgery at Kelso, which was above his usual form for his first start in the last few seasons, that could put him spot on for this contest and he could be overpriced for Trevor Hemmings and Sue Smith. 

Milan Native will be Denise Fosters’ first runner of the week after taking over at Cullentra House but has been well beaten on his last two starts and might struggle. Nicky Henderson saddles two, Pym, who looks too high in the weights off his latest effort, and Ok Corral after a 416-day absence, but this might be a prep for the Grand National in April.  

This race is usually won by thorough staying types which is a positive for the likes of Aye Right, Ok Corral and Vintage Clouds. However, two stepping out of novice company, namely Alnadam and Happygolucky, have more to recommend them. As much as course form can be fairly telling, a strong pointer to the latterly mentioned, it is the former that appeals most of the pair, given connections are often spot on with placing of their horses and the extra distance can unlock more improvement.

14:30 Tue - Ultima Handicap Chase
Alnadam silk


Cheltenham Festival races
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