The loss of Ascot last Saturday was a gigantic nuisance on the day, but if every cloud has a silver lining then the resultant bonus is a nine race card at Cheltenham seven days later, featuring the likes of Un De Sceaux and Thistlecrack, as well as a star-studded support cast.
One race that really catches my eye is the 2m 5f handicap chase at 1.10pm, the latest in a string of valuable races at this track at around the same distance, continuing the theme struck by the November and December Gold Cups, plus the valuable race won by Shantou Flyer on New Year’s Day.
Up seven pounds, Shantou Flyer is back for more under top weight, but the one I see running a massive race is the Venetia Williams-inmate, Aso.
He loves it here, having finished down the pecking order in the Arkle last March as a 66/1 outsider, before returning to bag place money in the aforementioned feature races pre-Christmas.
He’s done better since, winning at Chepstow last time out, and really seems to be getting his act together under conditional pilot, Charlie Deutsch.
A fast run big field barging match seems exactly Aso’s cup of tea, and in a 13-horse race in which he’ll be kept company by stablemate Tenor Nivernais, he holds a mighty chance of at least being in the three.
He looks fairly priced at 8/1 with bet365.
Saturday’s best bet at Cheltenham:
1.10 – Hugo’s Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase – 5 Aso (each way) @ 8/1 (bet365)