Cheltenham Festival Day 1: 14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase Betting Tips

14:50/Mar 14

Sports betting writer Bradley Gibbs highlights three selections ahead of the Ultima Handicap Chase on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

14:50 Cheltenham (Ultima Handicap Chase)

Noble Endeavor @ 10/1 (each-way)

Holywell @ 11/1 (each-way)

A Good Skin @ 25/1 (each-way)

As with any of the big-field handicap chases at Cheltenham, there’s a number in here with chances. Singlefarmpayment, The Druids Nephew and Ibis Du Rheu all warrant plenty of respect and will no doubt be popular in the betting, while Henri Parry Morgan and last year’s winner Un Temps Pour Tout are also likely to be well supported.

From the handful at the top of the market, there are two who really stand out – Paddy Power Chase winner Noble Endeavor and the Cheltenham-loving Holywell (winner of this race in 2014).

Gordan Elliot’s Noble Endeavor is a horse who’s shaped with plenty of promise on two previous occasions at this meeting – his 2nd in the 2015 renewal of the Martin Pipe was an excellent performance, while he looked sure to go very close indeed when coming with a decent-looking run in last year’s Challenge Cup before falling two from the finish. Both of those runs suggest that he’s well suited to this track and, if turning up in a similar mood, a good run looks on the cards.

The eight-year-old has been lightly campaigned this season with this race probably being the aim from the outset. Having built on what was just a mediocre return when finishing 4th in a strong race at Navan, the gelding went on to produce a career-best performance last time out in winning the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, a race in which he clocked a fairly impressive speed figure. If building on that, or simply matching it, then he really ought to be going well here.

Moving onto to Holywell. Jonjo O’Niell’s charge is now a ten-year-old so his best days may well be behind him, but he simply cannot be ruled out given his fondness for the venue, while his shrewd handler has certainly been known to ready one out of the blue for this meeting.

His record of two wins and a place at Cheltenham – including a Gold Cup 4th in 2015, as well as a win and a 2nd place finish in this race in 2014 and 2016 respectively – is there for all to see and it’s clear that he relishes the uniqueness of the Cheltenham track. To look at his record this season, you could argue that he’s finished as a performer at this sort of level but he also showed nothing last season before finishing 2nd in this race and, from 5lbs lower, could quite easily find his feet on familiar territory once again.

At a much bigger price, A Good Skin for Tom George is another who looks as though he has the potential to run a nice race.

This eight-year-old has a number of encouraging runs at Cheltenham to his name, including when winning a handicap over slightly further at the April meeting back in 2015. Since then, the gelding has turned in a few good performances, especially when finishing 2nd in last year’s Kim Muir.

A solid 4th place finish over slightly further at this venue back in December 2016, a run which saw him record a reasonable speed figure, is another piece of form that catches the eye.

With the ever-reliable Richard Johnson on board, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if A Good Skin performed better than his price-tag suggests by running into one of the five places and should give each-way backers a decent run for their money.

Click here to see more Cheltenham tips.

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