There’s less than one week to go until the Cheltenham Festival 2017 and here’s a preview of the Fred Winter.


Mega Fortune 14/1 (151) – It’s highly unlikely that he will run here as he has been given very little chance from a mark of 151. Connections are far more likely to favour the Triumph Hurdle for which he would be a leading player.

Master Blueyes 10/1 (150) – He has been progressing very nicely this season and I personally believe that he would have beaten Charlie Parcs at Kempton if the favourite had stood up. He looked to have improved significantly since the pair previously met and came away strongly in the closing stages. I think the stiffer test at Cheltenham will suit him and he is definitely a player. However, a mark of 150 and likely top weight could be his undoing with a plethora of progressive and well handicapped horse below him. He is another that is likely to take his chance in the Triumph.

Landofhopeandglory 16/1 (147) – I was never his biggest fan and wasn’t as taken as many were with his first three performances over hurdles. He has subsequently been put in his place and I’m certain that a mark of 147 sees him have very little chance in a race like this.

Dinaria Des Obeaux 12/1 (139) – Dinaria Des Obeaux looks a very smart filly. She won convincingly on hurdling debut before chasing home Triumph hopefuls Mega Fortune and Bapaume at Leopardstown. She seemed to be done for a bit of toe last time out at Fairyhouse before staying on powerfully in the closing stages and meeting trouble in running before being awarded the race in the stewards room. I step up would be ideal for her in the longer term but I’m certain that a strongly run race at a stiff track will also see her perform well and she will get that here.

Divin Bere 7/1 (139) – Divin Bere won in tenacious fashion on her British debut at Huntingdon, beating none other than Master Blue Eyes narrowly despite having to concede 4lbs to the runner up. Given that Master Blueyes is now rated 150 it looks a useful piece of form. Divin Bere is entitled to improve for that run too and so he has an outstanding chance and could be firmly on the right side of the handicapper. He has significant experience to draw upon from his time in France and is well worth his place at the head of the market.

Dolos 14/1 (134) – A quick glance at his two runs so far would leave a positive impression seeing that he was beaten by a potential superstar in Defi Du Seuil and a decent horse in Air Horse One. However, Alan King’s The Unit gave him 16lbs and a beating the last day and whilst he is a decent horse and has gone on to win subsequently, he is no world beater and that performance does suggest to me that Dolos isn’t as well treated as some of Paul Nicholl’s horse have been in previous years. Whilst he could run well I don’t see him as a major player judged on what we have seen so far.

Poker Play 16/1 (133) – David Pipe’s gelding could be very well handicapped if some of his French form is taken literally. He was a close second behind Charlie Parcs in France in November last year. He made his UK debut at Kempton in January and was sent off 1/3 favourite but could only finish second to Fidux. He was keen in the early stages of that race though and there is every chance he will come on significantly for that experience. His starting price that day certainly suggests that he is very well regarded and from a mark of just 133 he could be nicely treated.

Domperignon Du Lys 10/1 (133) – He is two from three over hurdles and on the occasion he did not win he finished well behind the smart Defi Du Seuil. He is with the right trainer to fulfil his potential in Nicky Henderson, but he hasn’t achieved a substantial amount on the racetrack yet. A mark of 133 could underestimate his abilities and I think there is more to come, but he doesn’t look a superstar or a handicap good thing at this point.

Coeur De Lion 14/1 (133) – Coeur De Lion could potentially be very well treated here. He is 2 from 4 over hurdles having achieved two notable scalps in Forth Bridge and most recently Nicky Henderson’s Rather Be. On the two occasions that he met with defeat he came across decent animals in Defi Du Seuil and Don Bersy, both of which have won on multiple occasions subsequently. With all of his hurdles form having a solid look to it his mark of 133 could be quite lenient and there is every indication that more improvement is to come. Importantly, he appears to have a very likeable attitude and loves a battle, having been involved in several close finishes. That experience will be very useful in a large field competitive handicap like this. He definitely has leading claims.

Dreamcatching 8/1 (131) – He would appear to be the leading player for last year’s winning trainer Paul Nicholls. I tipped up Diego Du Charmil as a very strong fancy for the race last season but I’m not mad keen on Dreamcatching here. His trainer clearly thought he needed to get some experience into him and whilst he was impressive at Wincanton he beat absolutely nothing and the form is bordering on worthless. He has a lot more on his plate here and although nicely weighted I think he has a good bit to find. Whilst I wouldn’t be laying him I think he has been over bet already.

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1 PT WIN – DIVIN BERE @ 7/1 (General) BOG NRNB

Although experience isn’t always the order of the day in this race as Diego Du Charmil proved last year, it is certainly a big help to have some solid looking form. The two that stand out for me based upon what they have achieved versus their official rating are Divin Bere and Coeur De Lion. The former could be very well treated based on his beating of the now highly rated Master Blue Eyes. The latter has run some fantastic races, all of which have worked out fairly well and his attitude in combination with being well potentially nicely handicapped is a huge draw. Both lok well treated and should run well here in a wide open contest.