Five Handicappers To Follow at Cheltenham Festival 2014

Trackmate – Pertemps Final

A horse that will need no introduction to readers. He first caught my eye last May when scooting clear in a three mile handicap hurdle at Aintree, where he travelled extremely well throughout the race and saw it out nicely. To see whether he would handle the undulations of Cheltenham, connections took their chance in the first Pertemps Qualifier of the season and he passed that test with flying colours. Although he only won by a head, it was a performance full of positives. His toughness was highlighted when he barged his way between horses at the fourth last. The way he made up ground going down the hill was especially taking and once he hit the front after the last, he was always doing enough to see off Benbane Head. The drying weather will be of a huge benefit to him as he needs at least good to soft ground to be seen at his best, so a big plus it will be the freshest ground on the New course hurdles track all week. At his current odds, he still represents value. It will be interesting to hear what his trainer James Evans has to say at tonight’s Cheltenham Preview.

Back Trackmate at 16/1 with William Hill. £25 free matched bet for new customers.

Amigo – Kim Muir

This one is slightly more left field but is a horse that I have been waiting to run for a while now. He ran a really good race in the Welsh National where he travelled well before not seeing out the trip. Going back through his form, better ground shouldn’t be an issue as he won a handicap hurdle at Stratford last year on good to soft off top weight. The main worry would be whether he would get into the race but off a mark of 132, he looks well treated and could go very close for David Pipe who won this with Junior back in 2011.

Back Amigo at 25/1 with Paddy Power. £50 free matched bet for new customers.

Junction Fourteen – Martin Pipe Conditionals Handicap Hurdle

A horse that is doubly entered however this is his preferred race rather the Coral Cup. He started his career over hurdles back in November, where he finished third to two useful types in Rydon Pines and Flemenson before just winning at Fontwell. On his handicap debut at Kempton on Boxing Day, he couldn’t have been more impressive when thrashing the opposition but the Lanzarote run can be forgiven as trainer Emma Lavelle admitted she shouldn’t have run. He did travel really well that day before fading and looking tired when falling at the last. Having had a break, he could be very dangerous off still a potential lenient mark of 137 plus Emma Lavelle won this race before with Pause And Clause back in 2010.

Back Junction Fourteen at 16/1 with William Hill. £25 free matched bet for new customers.

Anay Turge – Grand Annual

When looking through races like this, course form has to come under serious consideration and this Nigel Hawke trained grey fits the bill. This horse has a 100% record around Cheltenham over both courses and looked very good in November when beating Sew On Target ,who would also be of interest in this race, by two and three quarter lengths with the consistent Eastlake back in fourth. Eastlake came out and won in December beating several other Grand Annual contenders. Anay Turge looks nicely handicapped off 135 and beat a useful novice hurdler of Charlie Longsdon called Long Lunch in January at Southwell, before following up over course and distance last month. The better ground will be in his favour and his love of Cheltenham is a huge advantage.

Back Anay Turge at 20/1 with William Hill. £25 free matched bet for new customers.

Clarcam – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Although he isn’t as well handicapped as others, he’s a confirmed runner in this race and brings some good form as shown when second to Guitar Pete in a Grade Two over Christmas at Leopardstown and to Broughton at Musselburgh in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle. With both of those prominent in the Triumph betting, he doesn’t have that much to find and a really strong run race would suit him perfectly. With Bryan Cooper likely to take the ride, he has a good chance to give Gordon Elliott a second win after Flaxen Flare last year.

Back Clarcam at 20/1 with William Hill. £25 free matched bet for new customers.

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