The weights were revealed today for the ten Cheltenham handicaps. BHA handicappers Martin Greenwood and Andrew Mealor were at a Cheltenham media even today to discuss the ratings and weights for each of those races.
Starting with Tuesday
The bottom weight in last year’s Ultima Chase was 10st 8lb. However, this year looks a stronger renewal. Give Me A Copper is the 6-1 favourite. He’s the shortest-priced favourite of all the handicap races but has a great chance.
The Close Brothers Chase is a 0-145 novices’ handicap. With a maximum field of 20, the weight range is likely to be 8lb or even less.
Wednesday’s Cheltenham handicaps
Horses rated below 10st will struggle to get in the Coral Cup. A horse to note here is Getaway Trump, trained by Paul Nicholls. He ran well when second to Ballymore favourite Champ in Newbury’s Challow Hurdle in December.
There’s a big increase in the number of Irish entries in this year’s Fred Winter Hurdle: 10 in 2018 but 24 this year. Horses may need a rating as high as 130 to guarantee a run.
Thursday’s Cheltenham handicaps
The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (stupid name!) and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase both have lots of horses entered for more than one race.
Horses weighted below 10st 11lb are unlikely to make the cut for the Pertemps Final. An Irish raider to note here in Walk To Freedom. Held up early, he finished strongly to snatch second place in the Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.
Friday’s Cheltenham handicaps
Many of the County Hurdle entries are also in the Coral Cup, so it is hard to form a view. The Grand Annual is no longer the last race on the card and the number of runners has been cut from 24 to 20. The first four from last year are all entered again.
Of the four on topweight in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle, two are in other races. Lanzarote Hurdle winner Big Time Dancer could be worth a bet here at 20-1 for trainer Jennie Candlish.