Look To Out Sam In Day One Finale
Novices Handicap Chase
The opportunity of backing a juicy priced winner awaits backers in the final race of Cheltenham’s opening day, courtesy of the 2m4f novices’ handicap chase (5.30pm).
With seven of the last eight winners of this race having returned 13/2 to 12/1, the likes of Warren Greatrex’s 7yo Out Sam (12/1) is one of the first names under scrutiny.
Greatrex Pair Well Fancied
The winner of two small novice events this year (including over 3m, soft), Out Sam is also entered in the RSA, but would have the look of a well-handicapped improver if running here, and Greatrex thinks he’ll be even better on decent ground.
It’s also worth noting that eight of the last 10 winners of this handicap were 6-7yo’s, pointing up the Greatrex 6yo, Aloomomo (12/1). He was the winner of a decent handicap at Newbury in November (2m6f, soft).
That victory made it three handicaps on the spin, a sequence that earned him a rest prior to reappearing in February…
…when given a spin over hurdles (beaten just 3l). That outing would have put him spot on for Cheltenham, and he could have another handicap in him.
Strong Brit Challenge
The Brits seem to have a strong hand in this handicap, with Tom George’s 6yo, Double Shuffle (12/1), a big improver who won a nice handicap at Ludlow when last seen in December (2m4f, soft). The only concern is that he was beaten in both his two previous chase outings at Cheltenham, but still remains interesting.
Dan Skelton’s 9yo, Willow’s Saviour, is also among the leading fancies at 12/1, and while he won two of his three outings this term since returning from injury, neither were strong events, and he was also pulled up on his only visit to Cheltenham.
Mullins’ Pair Offer Value
Better value may therefore come via Willie Mullins’ 6yo, McKinley (14/1), an impressive beginners chase winner in January (2m1f, heavy), before flopping in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in February. That was McKinley’s third poor effort at that particular track, though, and he could well bounce back here at decent odds.
Another Mullins 6yo, Sambremont (16/1), has less to prove in terms of recent form having won both chases this year, including over 2m5f, before a Grade 2 novice in February (2m1f, heavy).
Paul Nicholls won this race with a 5yo in 2009, and has a similar type in Bouvreuil (14/1), who was off the mark over fences in January (2m3f, soft), before being outclassed in a Grade 2 three weeks later. He has been rested since, and is capable of more than he has shown to date.
With those near the front end of the market having delivered in this race during recent times, it could be worth siding with runners from that sector once more, including Out Sam. His trainer, Warren Greatrex, is accumulating a decent record at the festival, and Out Sam looks to be well treated at the weights.
*Prices correct at time of publication