Sport : Horse Racing

Our Festival bankers

1st March 2014, 08:02am

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Dynaste: The choice of Graham Cunningham

Dynaste: The choice of Graham Cunningham

With Sky Bet now non-runner/money back and Best Odds Guaranteed for all races at Cheltenham our team of pundits provide their Festival bankers.

Ed Chamberlin: Vukovar - JLT Chase: Harry Fry is one of the rising stars in the training ranks and this five-year-old looks destined to take high rank over fences. I loved the way he routed the opposition at Newbury last time and we haven't seen the best of him yet.

Graham Cunningham: Dynaste - Ryanair Chase: Dynaste ran a screamer in at Cheltenham the Cleeve in 2012 and breezed clear of Fingal Bay and Unioniste in a good novice chase there the following season. Yes, he didn't run well at last season's Festival but just two starts ago this horse split Cue Card and Silvinaco Conti in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and thoroughly deserved his BHA mark of 169 for that effort. If he comes back fresh and well after a muscle problem at Kempton, he simply has to play a very significant role in the Ryanair.

Alex Hammond: Hurricane Fly - Champion Hurdle: I know I'm not being too brave here, but I really think Willie Mullins' star can win the race for the third time. He's been in great form all season in Ireland, twice beating Our Conor and Jezki, and leading British hopes The New One and My Tent Or Yours face a tall order in trying to lower his colours.

Will Hayler: Le Bec - RSA Chase Fallen off the radar since meeting defeat behind Sam Winner on his most recent start, but it was always the plan to give him a break before the Festival and this thoroughly professional jumper certainly doesn't need any additional experience. The return to the Old Course should suit him and he made a fine impression on that track previously when beating the aforementioned Sam Winner and Shutthefrontdoor.

Wayne Huthcinson: Irving - Sky Bet Supreme Novices': Has been held in very high regard since the start of the season and shown his worth with his good jumping and fine cruising speed - he has the gears to compliment that.

Lydia Hislop: Kings Palace - Albert Bartlett: There is nothing to dislike about Kings Palace in the Albert Bartlett. He stays well, handles a variety of ground - although trainer David Pipe believes some cut would be an advantage - and is clearly very good. Yet the most intoxicating of his assets is the speed and efficiency of his hurdling. That ability will help him hold a prominent position in the deeper waters of a Festival race without Tom Scudamore asking him to go too fast.

Simon Holt: Hinterland - Racing Post Arkle: I was really taken with the way Paul Nicholls' charge won the Henry VIII at Sandown before Christmas and think he represents each-way value. It's possible to pick holes with a few at the top of the market and he's my idea of the best Festival bet at this stage.

Ben Linfoot: Calipto - JCB Triumph Hurdle:Paul Nicholls has expressed concerns that this National Hunt-bred might not be an ideal type for the Triumph, and that might be the case on good or quicker ground. But we're fast approaching the Festival now and with the going showing few signs of drying up he makes more and more appeal. His Newbury form is good, he has beaten older horses under a penalty, his hurdling is fast and fluent and he travels with a touch of class. On top of that, Activial boosted his form in a big way in the Adonis. He looks a cracking bet.

Ian Ogg: Lac Fontana - Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle: Highly tried and highly regarded last season, it looked as though he might never hit those heights when disappointing in the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. Connections treated him for ulcers after that run and he fairly bolted up back at Cheltenham in January. He's 12lb higher but looks to be an improving horse who should be capable of taking that rise in his stride and he appears to be the number one hope for a yard that has taken this race three times in the last decade.

Dave Ord: Faugheen - Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle: I won't be winning awards for originality but I've long been a fan of Willie Mullins' rising star and the enthusiasm from those close to the horse is infectious. He has a real engine, a huge future, and this race at this mercy.

Michael Shinners: Broughton - JCB Triumph Hurdle: I was really impressed with how he jumped and quickened clear at Musselburgh last time. He could well be John Ferguson's first winner at the Festival.


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