• Hands Heels

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade Three)

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

14:30 Cheltenham 17/03

With the non runners in Alfa Mix and Arrivederci I'll have another selection or two on the day for this race as there will be extra places offers as well.

With a big handicap like this I’m not going to go through every runner on here or I’ll be on 10,000 words. Instead I’ll narrow it down and provide a couple of options. I like backing a few outsiders in these big field races with the extra places on offer. The stats for this race highlight the fact that they are fairly open contests, with only one favourite in the last 12 years and only two single figure prices having won in the same time frame. Nicky Henderson also having a good record having four times in that time frame, winning the last twice with Dame De Compagnie most recently. The majority of the winners are also rated 140+ with the average age being between 5 and 7.

Having looked at the runners, Nicky Henderson actually has a few who hit all the stats, Monte Cristo is the biggest price of his qualifiers at 16/1. He’s 5, rated higher than 140 and bigger than 10/1, it’s worth bearing in mind Buzz, Allart, and Birchdale also all qualify. As he’s very slightly the biggest price Monte Cristo will be one of my picks.

Another who I will be backing is Alfa Mix for J P McManus, seventh in this race last year, Alfa Mix has gone chasing this year with solid form with a fourth behind Blackbow and Entoucas, with Entoucas one of the favourites for the Grand Annual and Blackbow having run with credit behind Energumene a couple of times this year. He also has form behind the highly rated Aramax and Captain Guinness who looked to be challenging Energumene before falling late last time out. I find it interesting he is entered here back over hurdles and think he is well worth a go at 20/1. Stats wise he is also perfect rated 142, bang on the age range being 6 and owned by JP who loves winning a handicap.

The final selection for myself is going to be Arrivederci for Jonjo O’Neill. This horse again fits all the stats a six year old rated 140. He has some excellent form this year with a second in a grade three hurdle, and then a staying on third in a class two at Ascot. The extra two furlongs I feel will suit him and at 33/1 I’d be confident would at least be filling one of the places with I imagine 6 or 7 on offer on the day, or 5 places currently.

Garo De Juilley is an interesting one at a huge price, having won the Silver Trophy Grade Three handicap on good ground so does handle it; although the softer the ground the better for him. This year over in France he has won twice, placed twice and fell in decent hurdle races so arrives here in great form. Last time out he won a listed race at 40/1 on heavy ground against Ajas who is highly thought of, and was second favourite for the cross country here. Though that was a short trip for Ajas the heavy ground made it more gruelling and Garo De Juilley stayed on well in that race. His previous runs at Cheltenham have been okay with a few runs at the track. Last time he was here he came fourth of twelve behind Simply The Betts and Imperial Aura who have gone on to be top class. I think 40/1 is a huge price for him and will be backing each way with extra places on offer!

Selections -

Monte Cristo 16/1 0.5 pts each way

Alfa Mix 20/1 0.5 pts each way - Now NON RUNNER

Arrivederci 33/1 0.5 pts each way - Now NON RUNNER

Garo De Juilley 40/1 0.5pts each way NRNB

Disclaimer- waiting until the day might be prudent with extra places expected.

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