Grand Annual Chase Tips - 4:15pm Cheltenham

The Grand Annual Chase is a Grade Three was previously run on the new course over an extended two miles, but having been switched to a new day on the festival means it now is run on the sharper old course. It is over a trip slightly shorter than two miles which will present a unique challenge to the horses that are usually aimed at this. Last years’ winner Chose Mate was the first novice to win the race since 2013 and no horse has won this race twice since 1959.

Ideally you want a horse on your side that has endured no more than four previous runs in the season and more specifically has had a break of at least fifty days coming into the race. Trainers seem to specifically want their horses coming into this fresh. Three twelve-year-olds have won this race in the past, but it tends to be a once in a generation occurrence. History suggests it may be quite some time before we see the heroics of Croco Bay being repeated quite so soon. Horses rated between 138 and 147 have done best in the race over the last decade with Le Prezien being the only horse rated 150 to win in recent times.

Sky Pirate is the ante-poste favourite but whilst he has been a model of consistency, he has had an extremely tough year having run five times in. He was beaten to a pulp by Allmankind at Warwick most recently. He is a previous course and distance winner which will be a useful tool in his armoury but he is on a career high mark and that could spell trouble for the Jonjo O’Neill runner.

Zanza is second favourite but it is equally difficult to make a case for him. He has run at the track three times previously and the best he could muster was twenty-first place in last years’ County Hurdle behind Saint Roi. Whilst he has enjoyed a break coming into this, it would be a massive leap of faith to side with him based on the evidence we have seen so far.

Entoucas rarely runs a bad race but may have had one or two runs too many this season. They have all been ultra-competitive too. On the plus side owner JP McManus has won this race four times since 2005 and he has had numerous placed horses in it. Any drying of the ground would be in this one’s favour though and he can’t be discounted entirely.

Ibleo has done nothing but improve all year and this likeable eight-year-old recorded a good second to Sky Pirate here just before Christmas. He has enjoyed a nice break since beating The Big Bite at Doncaster back in January. As with all Venetia Williams based runners, his chances would appear to be enhanced by any softening of the ground and Charlie Deutsch should retain the ride. Progressive and one to keep on the right side of.

Chosen Mate bids to become the first horse ever to win this race twice. He is especially hard to fancy on the basis of his form this year, having been trounced in a handicap chase at Leopardstown most recently. His rating remains at an all-time high and there should be more progressive sorts that will have his measure.

Embittered was no match for Energumene at Leopardstown in a Grade One, but this is a far cry from that sort of level. He has solid Cheltenham festival form as he finished third to Saint Roi in the County Hurdle last season. He has not been overly raced and would appear to be one of Joseph O’Brien’s better chances of the week. He has to be seriously considered a contender despite the recent poor record of novices in this race. A mark of 146 is very appealing and he is tempting.

Amoola Gold clearly has had this as a target for quite some time and comes into the race relatively fresh. Not beaten far by Sky Pirate at Warwick in January, the eight-year-old only has this race on his agenda at the Festival. All of his best performances so far though have come on flatter tracks such as Ascot or Warwick, so you have to take it on trust that he will ascend the uphill finish here. I would be much sweeter on him if this was run at Aintree.

Embittered looks to have a decent profile for what it usually takes to win a race like this and could importantly has useful track form from last years’ festival. He looks feasibly well treated and will get a good deal of weight from the likes of Ibleo and Sky Pirate.

Punters Lounge Tip: Embittered E/W @ 10/1 at Genting Bet - Click Here To Bet

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