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Ultima Handicap Chase

With Does He Know a 7/1 favourite for the race, and the trainer mentioning he will most likely will miss Cheltenham, though not ruling it out totally, every other entry is around 10/1 or bigger meaning there is some decent each way value. This is heightened further, with most of the next 5 in the betting double entered in races, meaning they also aren't guaranteed to run. I've backed one Ante Post selection on this race, and will add two more to my shortlist.


The Ante Post selection I played for this race, is one I actually backed for this race last year, but was a non runner: Full Back for Gary Moore. A two time winner as a novice last year as well as a neck second on final start where he looked the likeliest winner. He started off last year with a kind of flat 3rd of 5 in a novice chase and came on massively for that run. This year was similar, in that his first run was a midfield 7th of 13 in a decent handicap at Chepstow, the second that day was grade two placed the next day. With the winner, Chirico Vallis, placing this weekend in the Classic Chase at Warwick. He then ran in the ultra competitive Ladbrokes trophy where he was a decent 8th, finishing behind some very good horses. He was dropped in the weights slightly for that and capitalised on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham in a 3 miles 2 furlongs handicap. He’s now ticked the course form box, which for me is important in these sorts of races and his earlier season experience in big field handicaps will have done him the world of good. He was put up only 4lbs for that run which leaves him on a mark of 139, the average rating for the winners of the last 12 renewals is 142. I think the 4lb rise is more than fair, considering a faller left him in front miles from home and he had to then make all which wouldn’t have suited. I said that I'd like him to have one more run before a shot at this and thankfully he did as he tends to go better with more runs under his belt as opposed to totally fresh. He ran in the Portman Chase at Taunton at the end of January running a very strong, 3 length second to three time winner of that race Yala Enki, he met there receiving just 4lbs, whereas in a handicap he would have received 20lbs. Pushed up in the handicap to 140 he has a brilliant mark for this race, with Frodon being so highly rated in the race, Full Back will only have to carry a featherweight of 10 stone 2. He has been backed in from 25/1, when advised, to 16/1.


Fantastikas is the next horse that I'm going to play as a 1pt each way bet. Already a much better chaser, than he was a hurdler, Fantastikas won readily over 3 miles on his chase debut. The form of that race has worked out surprisingly well, with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th all winning since. He was then upped in class to the grade two December Novices' Chase, where he was a 7 length second to Threeunderthrufive. That was a small field with just two runners, but Threeunderthrufive is a good horse, having won an additional grade two next time out taking his chase record to 4 wins in 5 starts. His next start was down in trip over 2 and a half miles in the grade two Dipper Novices' Chase, he was outpaced over this trip but finished a still respectable 3rd, behind 7/2 Turners' hopeful, L'Homme Presse, and The Glancing Queen who herself is a graded Mares' Chaser more suited by that trip. His most recent start was back up in trip in a valuable novice chase at the new Lingfield Winter Millions meeting. He won whilst making most of the running, idling close home. He kept battling to win by a short head and the first two had pulled 33 lengths clear, so I wouldn't be too concerned by that and he will likely get a strong pace to aim at in this race. A mark of 144 is more than fair and he heads there having been given a weight of 10 stone 6. I think he is just below a graded level performer, but has an excellent chance here at 14/1. I will play this bet now, as I think the top of the market could cut up leaving him a little shorter, and it's NRNB so if he doesn't run there's no risk.


Vintage Clouds is the final selection, that I'll be backing, at 25/1. I actually advised him for the race last year and he won well. This season his prep has been very similar and he finds himself on a similar mark, now just 1lb higher. Last year he was well beaten in two starts at the start of the season, before a wind op and a placed effort in February en route to this race. This year he had three poor runs in less than two months at the start of the season, before a wind op saw his recent run result in a very good second off top weight. Arguably that was even better than his 19 length third last season, he has run in the race 5 times already with a record of F3281. Now a 12 year old you could forgive him for slowing down but that last run showed the spark was still there and he's got a great place chance in this even if he can't get his head in front for the 2nd time in the race. Statistically he fits the profile of the race, bar his age and has a lovely racing weight, also being allocated 10 stone 6.


Selections:

Full Back - Ultima - 25/1 0.5pts each way 5 places (17/01/2022) (Ante Post)

Fantastikas - 14/1 1pt each way 5 places (NRNB)

Vintage Clouds - 25/1 0.5pts each way (NRNB)


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