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Ultima Handicap Chase Tips - 2:50pm Cheltenham

2020 Ultima Handicap Chase Preview

The first handicap of the Festival is the Ultima Chase over three miles and a furlong. Surprisingly and I can see no good reason for it, it’s one of the worst races for the Irish during the whole four days. With only two winners in over 40 year’s it might pay to look out for anything particularly well handicapped that decides to try and buck the trends.

The trends point towards picking a horse who arrives in top form with a good record for last time out winners and also some course form is useful and we have had many good performance from horses who have ran in this race previously.

At one time it worth concentrating on the anything carrying under 11st but 10 of the last 12 winners have been rated 142 or more suggesting the classier types are targeting this race more and more. Two of the last three winners have been rated over 150, you would have to go a long way back to find another.

One of this year’s hopefuls is the Kim Bailey trained Vinndication who was a decent 5th behind Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Chase last year. The 7yo has only had five starts over fences and just one over 3m so is relatively unexposed on all levels.

He came home 5 lengths clear of Regal Encore in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot in November and that form stands up well. He wore a tongue strap for the first time that day so maybe that helped and could easily have more in the locker. He’s been off since then so will turn up here a fresh horse and certainly one for the shortlist.

The Ex-Irish trained The Conditional now with David Bridgewater is high up in the betting market and at the other end of the handicap to Vinndication. He has had four starts since coming over and has ran well in each race including over C/D back in October when he won a Class 2 handicap. He’s gone up 10lbs since then and could be a live contender.

Nicky Henderson won this race last year withBeware The Bear, the first time the handler had won it for 20 years and is represented this year by both Brave Eagle and Burbank. On jockey bookings Brave Eagle looks to be the main hope as Nico De Boinville is on board.

The 8yo has not been easy to train having only had three starets since October 2018. He has won at Haydock and Uttoxeter since then and last time out was a decent 8th in the big hanidcap at Newbury behind De Rasher Counter.

Burbank, a second season chaser and has already surpassed his hurdle mark. He was impressive when winning at Newbury at Christmas time but has since ran below par at Doncaster, he needs to bounce back here.

Irish challenger Discorama trained by Paul Nolan is fancied by some shrewd judges. The 7yo has only won once over fences in seven starts but has some very good bits of form in the book notably when finishing second in the National Hunt Chase 12 months ago. He was also second to Delta Work at Punchestown last April so has to be taken seriously here.

Owner Trevor Hemmings has had plenty of success in the handicaps at the Festival but has not been very lucky in this race. He has finished second three times and placed on several other occasions. Last season he was second with Vintage Clouds and third with Lake View Lad.

Vintage Clouds bounced back to winning ways at Haydock in January after some below par efforts. Last time out he was well beaten in heavy ground in the Grand National trial and it remains to be seen whether he heads back to Aintree in April.

Others of interest would be Kildisart and Mister Malarky who come into the race with mixed fortunes so far this season. Kildisart was a good 4th in the JLT last year and then ended the season with a 5 length beating of Mister Malarky at Aintree. Things just havent clicked this season yet but the Ben Pauling yard had been hit low with a virus at the beginning of the year. If he is back on song he could be well handicapped here.

Mister Malarky was also struggling at the early stages of this season and was in fact pulled up at Ascot in December and things didnt look too rosy. I'm not sure what trainer Colin Tizzard did but next time out he won a Grade 3 handicap at Kempton, beating Black Corton in the process. He's up 4lbs for that victory and woudlnt want it too soft.

Alan King saddles Who Dares Wins who is relatively new at this game having only had three starts over fences. A winner of the Cesarewitch on the level he was also a smart hurdler. He took to fences this season and started with a decent 2nd at Kempton behind Master Tommytucker. He then got turned over at Plumpton when he was an odds on favourite in what was a farcicle affair and that effort is best ignored. Last time out he won a Grade 2 contest at Kempton and that effort booked his ticket here. It will be his first attempt at three miles so could find even more improvement if he gets it.

Punters Lounge Tip: Vinndication EW 8/1 at Coral - Click Here To Bet
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