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IRISH LAD CAN PUT A ROCKET UP THE CHELTENHAM TRIALS: With Saturday handicap punting a lottery today, Daqman let loose a few bull’s-eye arrows yesterday but they were wide of the mark. Today is all about Cheltenham trials, with winning favourites in short supply and Rocket Lad the sole Irish challenger. Headlines:

🔹 POOR RECORD OF FAVOURITES
🔹 WHY YOU CAN COUNT ON MONTE
🔹 RASHER TO BRING HOME BACON
🔹 IRISH ROCKET HAS FORM BOOST
🔹 DOLLAR’S BEST AT THE WEIGHTS

DAQMAN 375 POINTS AHEAD OF PRICEWISE IN VALUE HUNT: Daqman challenges Pricewise in the 2.25 and 3.35 Cheltenham plus the old Great Yorkshire at 3.15 Doncaster. He is 375 points clear!

DAQMAN ACCOUNTS UPDATE
📈 Daqman 27, Pricewise 13 (+324.40 to -51.00) 10pt stakes at SP
📈 Bull’s-eye bets: 37% (+203.40 from 10-27) staked to win 50
📈 Bulls-eye naps: 0% (-12.00 from 0-1) (2019: 47% +249 from 8-17)
📈 All Daily Naps 43% (+11.50 from 31-71) 10pt stakes at SP
📈 Supernaps 52% (+40.69 from 11-21) 20pt stakes at SP
📈 Fortune Cookies 100% (+11.42 from 1-1) 20pt stakes at SP


POOR RECORD OF FAVOURITES

Gordon Elliott stays at home. He’s taken out all 10 probables from the Cheltenham trials card, and Ireland now has just the one runner (Emmet Mulins’ Rocket Lad in the Ballymore test at 3pm).

Leading trainer at the meeting with eight in the last decade, Alan King, is also swerving the trials; he has his day at Doncaster, with six declared starters. Tom Scudamore, who is second best rider at Cheltenham on this day, with four, is also at Doncaster.

Today’s leading Cheltenham trainers (with runners): Nicky Henderson 7, Paul Nicholls 4, Colin Tizzard 4, Nick Williams 4, Philip Hobbs 3, Nigel Twiston-Davies 3, Venetia Williams 3.

Leading jockeys (with rides): Barry Geraghty 7, Daryl Jacob 4 and Aidan Coleman 2.

Favourites None have won the 1.15 and 2.25, and only one in each of the 3.00 and 4.10 races in the decade.


WHY YOU CAN COUNT ON MONTE

12.40 Cheltenham (Triumph Trial) This has produced two Triumph Hurdle winners in the decade (2015 and 2017), both for Nicky Henderson, who saddles Monte Cristo today. Can you count on him? I think so, but I’m careful with stakes today: not the full Monty.

‘Monty’ and Rowland Ward are the only Triumph Hurdle entries from today’s small field, with Monte Cristo 21.0 for the festival in the BETDAQ Sportsbook this morning, if you fancy an anticipatory ante-post punt.

He beat a subsequent Listed winner at Auteuil in October, and has been given 140 for his English debut today, with his stable four wins in seven years in the race.

Rowland Ward and Galahad Quest don’t currently warrant within a stone of that, but improvement is possible at this stage. Galahad Quest’s yard does well at this meeting.

1.15 Cheltenham (novices’ chase) Mister Whitaker, who won this last year, afterwards took the Close Brothers at the Festival and lines up for the Cotswold Chase today.

Fourth in the Martin Pipe over hurdles, Champagne Court (BETDAQ 7.6) was progressive as a novice chaser in the autumn, beating Mercy Mercy Me at Plumpton but it’s a pinstickers’ race, with improvement possible anywhere in the ranks.

1.50 Cheltenham (handicap chase) Another tricky one. Warthog was third in the autumn gold cup on the old course here (Count Meribel behind), before scoring over today’s CD on the new course.

Warthog, Spiritofthegames (2nd that day) and Cepage (4th) are now handicapped for a triple dead-heat.

Cepage was a long way back when Lalor (BETDAQ 7.8) was third in a photo for a Grade 3 here on the new course on New Year’s Day.

Highway One To One is so consistent that he hasn’t moved a pound in the handicap over nine races in the last 13 months or more, so completely exposed. My Way is 0-15, placed 10 times in his career as a professional bridesmaid.


RASHER TO BRING HOME BACON

2.25 Cheltenham (Cotswold Chase) It’s a long time since the days of Little Owl and See More Business when this race was a kingmaker. Frodon won the Ryanair after taking it last year and Neptune Collonges (2011) won the Grand National.

De Rasher Counter, Santini and Top Ville Ben are entered in the Gold Cup; Mister Whitaker and Bristol De Mai both the Ryanair and Gold Cup; Slate House both the RSA and Golden Miller.

The race conditions favour Bristol De Mai, at least 4lb clear of his rivals and third in the 2019 Gold Cup, but in nearly four years now he’s won only once outside Haydock Park.

There are question marks, too, over RSA runner-up Santini, which a wind op may or may not answer.

Top Ville Ben has improved nearly a stone in three recent races, 11.0 offer De Rasher Counter exactly a stone in the autumn, winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (Many Clouds and Smad Place have followed up with victory here).

Slate House has excelled on flat tracks in the novice ranks but fell in the autumn gold cup here.

2.40 Doncaster (Yorkshire Rose Mares Hurdle) Floressa does duty for the Fortune Cookies today. All are 20-point level-stakes bets.


IRISH ROCKET HAS FORM BOOST

3.00 Cheltenham (Ballymore Novices Hurdle) Two winners of the Albert Bartlett scored in this, one trained by Nicky Henderson (Time Flies By for him today) and one by Rebecca Curtis (now saddles Ruthless Article).

A strange state of affairs in the market where the 133-139 rated horses are in the front rank to beat the 140-145 rated.

A clear indicator that anything can happen, anything can progress, in these novice events.

I’ll have my euro on the brave lone ranger from Ireland, Rocket Lad (BETDAQ 8.8). While he’s been rested after injury, winners of six races have come from the placed horses in his Gowran Park maiden.

3.35 Cheltenham (Cleeve Hurdle) This is on the gravy train to the

Stayers Hurdle: three have won both, including Paisley Park last season; four more won the Cleeve and were placed at Cheltenham.

In advance of today’s race, BETDAQ Sportsbook offered ante-post for the Stayers: 2.3 Paisley Park, 7 If The Cap Fits, 14 L’Ami Serge, 18 Summervlle Boy, 42 Lisnagar Oscar, 54 William Henry, 62 Kilbricken Storm and 72 Tobefair.

It’s a real test for Paisley Park today, with Aintree Stayers winner, If The Cap Fits, and classy old L’Ami Serge to keep him honest.

The 2018 Supreme Novices winner, Summerville Boy should not be overlooked as the Relkeel winner at Cheltenham sure to enjoy a further step up in trip.

But the runner-up in the Relkeel was beaten out of sight by If The Cap Fits in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November. I took 4.4.


DOLLAR’S BEST AT THE WEIGHTS

3.15 Doncaster (ex-Great Yorkshire) Callipto was third in this 3m Listed handicap chase last year, getting 5lb from Dingo Dollar (sixth), whose trainer, Alan King, has won this twice in the last four years and runs three this afternoon.

They meet at level weights today, with CD-winner Dingo Dollar – fifth in the Ladbrokes Trophy – well backed overnight, as was Sue Smith’s Ravenhill Lad. Sue has been in fine form but the gamble on Cracking Find (7-2 fav SP) came unstuck yesterday.

Chidwell and Dingo Dollar were one-two in the Grimthorpe here last March and, again, it’s front-running Dingo Dollar (BETDAQ 9.8) who has the weights pull now.

On consistency, none better than Quarenta and Fingerontheswitch. Quarenta, another well supported, needs a strong pace.

Fingerontheswitch has a remarkable chasing record (13313033221) and the ground has come right for him. Looks solid win and place at 16.5

Burbank showed a lot of guts to get back up after being headed four out at Newbury, so Nicky Henderson tries him again at 3m. Maybe he’ll settle a bit and give himself a chance.

DAQMAN’S BETS

12.40 Cheltenham (win 10)
BET 10pts win MONTE CRISTO

1.15 Cheltenham (win 20)
BET 3pts win CHAMPAGNE COURT

1.50 Cheltenham (win 20)
BET 3pts win LALOR

2.25 Cheltenham (win 20)
BET 2pts win DE RASHER COUNTER

3.00 Cheltenham (win 30)
BET 3.75pts win (nap) ROCKET LAD

3.15 Doncaster (win 30)
BET 3.5pts win DINGO DOLLAR
BET 2pts win and place FINGERONTHESWITCH

3.35 Cheltenham (win 10)
BET 2.75pts win IF THE CAP FITS


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