(All Sky Bet prices – including Price Boosts – are Non-Runner/No-Bet and Best Odds Guaranteed)
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3. Mister Whitaker (Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase – 14/1)
He’s trained by my sporting idol Mick Channon and carries the colours of the sponsor of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. He went into the notebook when running a cracking race against Hell’s Kitchen at Kempton over Christmas and I really fancied him at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day – only to get cold feet when the ground seemed to go against him.
He defied that to win well and is still on an attractive mark. I’m confident we’ll see the trademark Channon windmill celebration in the winners’ enclosure after the Close Brothers – the trainer has promised he will if Mister Whitaker delivers.
Mr Whitaker – can spark windmill celebrations
2. Chef Des Obeaux (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – 9/2)
I have been banging on about this one for a long time. He was beaten by stablemate Santini on his hurdling debut at Newbury and there are plenty of people who expect that one to confirm the form – but I’m not among them.
It was interesting that Chef Des Obeaux was the stronger of the pair in the market that day and he was far too free through the race. He has improved massively since and the further he goes the better he’s looked.
The Albert Bartlett is not one for the flashy types – it’s for the grinders, the battlers, the warriors. My selection ticks all those boxes. I expect him to win next week – and he’s going to be a serious chaser in time.
1. Un De Sceaux (Ryanair Chase – 2/1)
The heart and the head are siding with Willie Mullins’ mighty warrior. I’m thrilled to see lots of other tipsters on the preview night circuit – including my sportinglife colleague Ben Linfoot – taking on the favourite, but I think he can pick up and carry this lot.
My mole in the Willie Mullins yard tells me the horse is absolutely flying. It wasn’t a vintage renewal he won last year but what a performance it was. I can’t believe any other horse would have won having pulled so hard – but he finished with real pazazz having produced a brilliant round of jumping.
Un De Sceaux: Ed’s best bet of the Festival
I love the horse and he has the constitution of an ox. This is his 27th race, he’s seeking a 21st win and a ninth at Grade One level. He’s a hero.
ITV Cheltenham preparations are in full swing and all the features are now in the card. We’ve done three of the opening sections and are hoping and praying Samcro runs in the Ballymore as he’s going to be the star of our show on Wednesday – along with Altior v Douvan.
Keep an eye out for the launch of our new Social Stable which will be manned by Oli Bell at the racecourse. If you’ve any questions about racing, want terminology explaining etc get in touch with the team or grab them at the racecourse.