Your pinstickers’ guide to the final field for the prestigious handicap at Cheltenham this Saturday

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TAKE the Mick within the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham (2.25).

Former England soccer star Mick Channon is healthier often known as a Flat coach however he has a possible chasing star in MISTER WHITAKER.

 Steve reckons Mister Whitaker can do the biz in the big one

PA:Press Affiliation

Steve reckons Mister Whitaker can do the biz within the massive one

The six-year-old has lengthy been tipped for the highest and took large strides in his first season over fences.

He began with a win over this journey at Carlisle and ended it with victory within the Shut Brothers Novice Chase on the Cheltenham Pageant.

He got here again from eight months off to strike once more on the Cumbrian observe final time, working away with a Listed race regardless of Channon having left loads to work on.

That victory ought to go away him spot on for this and we all know he likes at the moment’s course and distance. The handicapper has hiked him 15lb since that Pageant win however he’s enhancing and might take it in his stride.

FRODON 3/5

DON the shortlist. Came back after a breathing operation to win nicely at Aintree last time. Has gone up 3lb for that and has run well at Cheltenham before which should be an asset. This trip suits and he won’t be far away despite shouldering top weight.

MISTER WHITAKER 5/5

MISTER nice guy. Rising star who won the Close Brothers Chase at the Festival over this trip on soft ground in good style. Sees out this trip well and looks set for a big season despite shooting up the handicap. Looks open to improvement and will be right in the firing line for Mick Channon.

 Frodon is a former course and distance winner

Getty Images – Getty

Frodon is a former course and distance winner

JAVERT 3/5

JAV a look. Talented type who has had training problems but looked good on past two runs this autumn. Ran well in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree latest and stays well. Goes on any ground and there could be more to come with few miles on the clock but this is his biggest test yet.

BENATAR 3/5

TAR will stick on. Kept really good company as a novice chaser with a Grade 2 win at Ascot before finishing third in the Golden Miller Chase at the Festival which is decent form. Looked rusty at Newton Abbot and has more to offer as he gains experience. On the upgrade and trip suits but needs more.

RATHER BE 4/5

RATHER good. Beaten a neck by Mister Whitaker in the Close Brothers at the Festival and is 3lb better off at the weights today. Likes this trip and is on the upgrade. Trainer Nicky Henderson thinks a lot of him and he’s gone well fresh in the past. One for the shortlist.

KALONDRA 2/5

HARD to Kal. Was going well before falling at Galway in August on the back of a solid third place effort in a Cheltenham handicap. Goes on any ground and stays well. Open to improvement if that tumble hasn’t knocked his confidence – but it might well have done.


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BARON ALCO 4/5

BARON could rule. Consistent chaser who was second to the high-class Top Notch in a Sandown Grade 1 before an excellent second in the Stable Plate at the Cheltenham Festival. Needed his comeback at Chepstow so is fit now and has solid claims on his best form.

SHANTOU VILLAGE 2/5

SHANTOU tough. Has been kept on the go and wasn’t beaten far here last time, but that was in a much lesser race than this. Trip and track suit but looks just short of this level and a little high in the weights.

WEST APPROACH 2/5

APPROACH with care. Shaped well in third here on comeback last month and comes here 1lb lower in the weights. Looks like an improving stayer and has place claims off this mark although he is having his sights lifted here.

SPLASH OF GINGE 3/5

GINGE is nuts. Quirky type who won this last year off 7lb lower mark and finished the season with a superb second in the Stable Plate. In between there were some poor efforts. So can be hit and miss but clearly loves it here and another big run can’t be ruled out although you need plenty of faith to back him.

 Splash Of Ginge won this race last year

Getty Images – Getty

Splash Of Ginge won this race last year

HAPPY DIVA 2/5

HAPPY to swerve. Has some decent form in small fields over this distance and went well enough on comeback in a Carlisle Listed race last time. Is on the upgrade but needs a fair leap forward to take this from what looks a hefty mark for what she’s achieved on the track so far.

MOVEWITHTHETIMES 2/5

TIME’s up. Unseated Barry Geraghty on his comeback from eight months off at Fakenham last time in a much lesser contest than this. Has run some good races in small fields, including here, but this is a tougher assignment and he was pulled up when fancied for the Stable Plate at this year’s Festival.

KING’S SOCKS 1/5

SMELLY Socks. David Pipe’s chaser struggled last season, including when pulled up at Aintree last time when looking all wrong. Needs a much bigger drop down the weights and classes to get back in the winning groove.

BALLYANDY 1/5

ANDY won’t come in. Supreme Novice Hurdle fourth who has been hit and miss since switching to fences. Jumped poorly on comeback at Wetherby last time so although he’s fit from that he needs more in this company.

 Ballyandy (red) has won at the track before

Crispin Rodwell – The Sun Dublin

Ballyandy (red) has won at the track before

GEORDIE DES CHAMPS 1/5

CHAMPS to chumps. Won a couple of minor chases before struggling in better company. Must have improved at home because he was well backed in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot last time before putting in a poor effort. He’ll be fitter for that but is best watched for now.

GUITAR PETE 4/5

GUITAR’s in tune. Has dropped to just 3lb higher than when winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup here last season which is a similar contest to this. Today’s trip suits and he showed some promise when second at Wetherby last time. Handicapped to be in the frame again so worth each-way support.

WILLIE BOY 2/5

WILLIE waiver. Came back from seven months off for a new yard to run well enough when second in easier company at Wetherby last time. Stays well and is open to improvement but took a heavy tumble on his last run here at the Festival. Needs a lot more to figure.


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EAMON AN CNOIC 2/5

CNOIC and run. Mudlark who has been hurdling after showing some promise over fences last season. Sees out this trip well but needs to improve in this company. Hard to fancy even for a place unless the heavens really open.

WHOSHOTWHO 1/5

BOO Who. Improving in lesser races and was unlucky only to dead-heat at Market Rasen last time. He stays well but this is a much bigger test so a lot more is needed and he’s a couple of pounds wrong at the weights.

SCORPION won’t sting. Climbing the weights thanks to some decent runs in Ireland, albeit at lower levels. Now 17lb higher than when winning at Listowel in September so needs more although this distance suits.

Nico de Boinville and Nicky Henderson out to bag big prizes on the way to the Festival

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