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Loader’s Lane To Cheltenham – “I think he’s the kind of horse that can defy those stats”

Despite the weather playing havoc with the jumps schedule over the past week there has still been plenty of potential Cheltenham Festival clues on offer.

One of the main talking points from the last seven days has been Shishkin and whether he is a real threat to Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His win in the Denman Chase at Newbury over the weekend has definitely divided people. For me, I was happy with his run, it was good to see him put in a gutsy performance.

Some people will be concerned about the fact that a 10-year-old hasn’t won Cheltenham’s feature race since 1998. However, Shishkin is no ordinary horse. I think he’s the kind of horse that can defy those stats, as he always battles hard to the line and never knows when he’s beaten. The extra couple of furlongs over the Gold Cup distance will suit him, and if it turns into a staying test up the Cheltenham hill, that will certainly play to his strengths. He’s currently 8/1 with Rhino, which looks to be too big. I can see punters wanting to side with him on the day, and he could go off around the 4/1 mark.

Galopin Des Champs is clearly the standout pick for Cheltenham Gold Cup, but I think he could be vulnerable especially when it appeared he had a hard race at the Dublin Racing Festival and Shishkin is the one to take him on with at the current prices.

Edwardstone bounced back to form after a clear cut win in the Game Spirit Chase. It’s fair to say he had been underwhelming this season after some below-par efforts. This time connections decided to change up the tactics by making the running, which seemed to work a treat. The race did fall apart, but he couldn’t have won more impressively.

If they do decide to employ the same tactics, it would definitely add another dynamic to the race. However, I suspect he might struggle if the likes of Editeur Du Gite or Jonbon decide to take him on, and that could play right into the hands of El Fabiolo. Alan King’s stable star is currently 8/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase which looks to be the correct price. He’ll probably be in or around that on the day.

Elsewhere on the card at Newbury, Iberico Lord was a good winner of the Betfair Hurdle. The way he ran passing horses through the field suggested that he could be worth stepping up in distance. If Nicky Henderson decides to go for The Coral Cup he’d be a horse I’d like to keep on side as the stable has an excellent record in the race winning it four times.

Brighterdaysahead swept aside her opposition to win a Listed race at Navan on Sunday. She now finds herself the second favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at 3/1, which looks to be on the short side for me, as I think the race has a lot more depth to it.

I have a good recent record when it comes to The Mares’ Novice Hurdle. I have tipped the last two winners with Love Envoi and Youwearitwell and I’m hoping I’ve found the next one with Golden Ace.

The six-year-old mare remains unbeaten over hurdles after recording a comfortable success at Taunton last week. She hasn’t been tested in graded company, but her penultimate run, where she took on the boys on her hurdles debut at the same venue, is strong. The horse who finished second to her, Lucky Place, went on to give the highly-touted Gidleigh Park a scare in the Grade 2 Cheltenham on Trials Day. Even though she was getting a lot of weight, she showed a good attitude to fend off some useful types, which I can think will help her when she steps up in class.

Her trainer, Jeremy Scott, has confirmed that she will take her chance at Cheltenham, and they think she’ll be able to more than hold her own. She’s currently 11/1 for the Mares’ Novice at The Festival, and I could see her easily being a single-figure price on the day, so take the value while you can!

My next Loaders Lane To Cheltenham column will return next week where I’ll be looking back at action from Ascot and Haydock.

Ante-post tips this week

Shishkin 8/1 (Cheltenham Gold Cup)

Golden Ace 11/1 (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)

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Despite the weather playing havoc with the jumps schedule over the past week there has still been plenty of potential Cheltenham Festival clues on offer.
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