TEMPLEGATE takes on the final day of Cheltenham Festival confident of banging in a few winners to end the week on a high.
Our man delivers all his tips below – back a horse by clicking their odds.
And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Sun Racing Lucky 15 for Friday and why we fancy this huge outsider.
VAUBAN (Nb – next best bet) got no luck in running when a close second to Pied Piper on debut at Leopardstown and can get his revenge here.
Willie Mullins’ youngster stepped into Grade 1 company to run away with the red-hot Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown ahead of another of today’s rivals Fil Dor.
That has been the key pointer to this race in the past. Paul Townend’s mount has lots of talent and can show it here.
Pied Piper is clearly the main danger after his cakewalk in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial here in January.
He didn’t come off the bridle in beating a useful field and his liking for the track is a major plus.
Stablemate Fil Dor was no match for the tip last time but landed two nice wins earlier this season including at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
He looks solid for place punters. If there’s still plenty of juice in the ground, that is a plus for Icare Allen.
He was fifth in the Spring Juvenile and followed up with a smooth Grade 3 success at Fairyhouse.
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A repeat of that gives him an each-way chance at long odds.
Il Etait Temps is another who saw the back end of Vauban last time and can improve.
Knight Salute is flying the flag for Britain and made it an impressive three Grade 2 wins in a row at Kempton last time.
The first of that sequence came over this course and distance which helps.
Porticello was an easy Grade 1 winner at Chepstow and has more to offer, as does Skelton hopeful Doctor Parnassus.
COLONEL MUSTARD was a cracking third in a Leopardstown Grade 1 last time behind Sir Gerhard and Three Stripe Life who were the one-two in the Ballymore here on Wednesday.
He’s not quite in their class but drops into handicap company for the first time here and he has a fair weight for what he’s done so far.
Suprise Package was impressive in winning the Imperial Cup at Sandown at the weekend when there was plenty of give in the ground.
He’s proven in a big field and should go close again.
State Man has a big reputation and showed his promise when winning by 12 lengths at Limerick last month.
He didn’t get out of first gear there but wasn’t beating a lot. Willie Mullins’ hopeful could be well ahead of the handicapper.
First Street showed up well when third in the Betfair Hurdle in February and looks open to improvement for Nicky Henderson.
I Like To Move It was a place ahead of him last time. He finished off strongly there and should motor up the hill with no problems.
A 4lb rise in the weights for that effort seems fair enough.
West Cork put in a rare poor run at Ascot last time but was still fifth in good company.
His key form for this race was his Greatwood Hurdle win here in November. A repeat of that would give him a solid each-way chance.
Top Bandit scored here in October and has since won nicely at Punchestown twice.
He is a strong stayer on a low mark and should make his presence felt.
Stablemate Call Me Lyreen won in a big field at Leopardstown but has 14lb more here.
HILLCREST (treble – my third choice) was awesome when winning at Haydock last time and can improve again to take this.
He fought off his rivals strongly to land a Listed contest here in January and was so unlucky on his return for a Grade 2 later in the month when his rider was knocked out of the saddle.
Henry Daly’s seven-year-old is a proven stayer who will battle right up the hill.
The rain earlier in the week was a big plus for Ginto who has been in cracking form on soft in Ireland.
He cantered around Navan to take a Grade 2 in style before Christmas and backed that up with a impressive win at Naas.
He is another with more to offer. Minella Cocooner already has a Grade 1 on his CV thanks to an impressive success at Leopardstown last month.
He stays well and jumped really well which will be an asset.
Bardenstown Lad took a nice contest over course and distance in October and was sent back across the Irish Sea by John McConnell to land a comfortable success at Musselburgh last month.
He goes on any ground and is a thorough stayer so can figure on this sharp hike in class.
Shantreusse has worked his way nicely through the ranks this season and booked his place in this company when running away with a Clonmel Grade 3 last time.
He saw out the trip really strongly in the heavy ground there and comes here with an each-way chance.
The big field holds no fears for Good Time Jonny after he put away 23 rivals at Leopardstown last month.
That was over this trip and he wasn’t stopping at the line.
He looks just the type to run well and trainer Tony Martin knows what he’s doing in races like this.
The Nice Guy is another who won’t mind the hustle and bustle after he made it three wins in a row with victory at Naas latest.
He tanked along and pulled one more up the run-in so there’s every chance he’ll see out this longer trip.
Classic Getaway cost over half a million quid and repaid a small slice of that when winning nicely at Punchestown.
He didn’t have to break sweat there and is another who should appreciate tackling this longer trip.
Stag Horn made it three wins on the spin in a Warwick Grade 2 last time.
His excellent jumping made the difference there and will stand him in good stead again.
He’s only five and can improve. Ramillies was an easy winner at Punchestown and has more to come.
A PLUS TARD (Nap – best bet) can go one better than last year’s close-up second.
He has yet to finish out of the first three in his career and has three Grade 1 victories to his name.
He ran a cracker in this 12 months ago when he just couldn’t collar Minella Indo up the hill.
Since then he has destroyed the likes of Royale Pagaille in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and he went down to Galvin only in a photo for the Savills Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.
He has been kept fresh since then and won’t mind the ground if there’s still plenty of juice in it.
Minella Indo has been out of sorts since lifting this prize last March. He pulled up in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day but looked something closer to his old self when second in the Irish Gold Cup last time.
He loves it here and won over hurdles at the 2019 Festival as well as a second in the 2020 RSA Chase.
Coming back to this track should relight his fire.
Galvin won last season’s National Hunt Chase over further but seems to have improved since including with that Savills victory.
We know he will charge up the hill if close to being in contention and he’s another who seems to act on any ground.
He’s been well backed and should be right there again.
Al Boum Photo has won this twice and was a decent third 12 months ago.
It’s a tall order for a ten-year-old to win this but he’s so lightly raced and this is just seventh run since the start of 2020.
Willie Mullins has mapped his campaign around coming here and it would be no surprise to see him make the frame again at decent odds.
The deluge on Wednesday was ideal for Royale Pagaille who could have done with the rain continuing for another 48 hours.
He loves the mud and it takes the speed out of his rivals.
It’s probably not wet enough for him but any juice in the ground enhances his chances.
Chantry House was sent off favourite for the King George on Boxing Day but flopped badly and had to dig really deep to see off Santini in the Cotswold Chase here last time.
That form is nowhere near good enough so he needs to take a big step forward.
Protektorat has top-quality form at shorter trips and saw out 3m1f well when winning in the mud at Aintree last time.
That was a good performance but it doesn’t guarantee he last out this longer distance.
Tornado Flyer landed a surprise win in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day for Willie Mullins.
He deserves credit for that but these rivals are much stronger and he’s another who isn’t guaranteed to last out this distance.
Aye Right is an honest handicapper who ran well in a Grade 2 here last time but isn’t up to this level.
BOB AND CO can score for galloping dentist David Maxwell.
The owner-jockey couldn’t ride at the Festival 12 months ago when this 11-year-old was going best before unseating three out.
He made amends by taking the Punchestown version of this race and he warmed up nicely with a second at Haydock last month.
Billaway has been second in the past two runnings of this, including by a short-head last season.
He lost a head-bobber to the tip at Punchestown and they look set to fight it out again.
Winged Leader has come good with wins on his past three starts.
He jumped well when scoring at Thurles last time out in January and is sure to run well again.
Pont Aven had 16 lengths in hand when scooting in at Ludlow last time.
He made the odd error there but has a good engine and held his own in top chases when trained by Willie Mullins until last summer.
Fumet D’Oudairies won here in April and saw out this sort of trip well enough when second in the Champion Novice Hunter at Stratford last time and looks a solid each-way player.
Premier Magic was third in that and is open to improvement with few miles on the clock.
Cousin Pascal won the Aintree version of this race in April and has gone well twice since. He’ll be a contender if staying this longer distance.
MOUNT IDA won the Kim Muir at last year’s Festival and has done well twice since, including when seeing off Elimay in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse last time.
She has jumped out to her right at times but that hasn’t stopped her winning here and Davy Russell is the ideal man to bring out the best in her.
Elimay looks the main danger again. She has Festival experience thanks to her sixth in the David Nicholson Hurdle and, more importantly, her close-up second in this race 12 months ago.
She was backed off the boards there but was just run out of it up the hill.
She heads here in excellent form after a bloodless Listed win at Naas last time and has every chance again.
Concertista was classy over hurdles and finished a good second in the David Nicholson here last year.
That was followed by a good third in a Punchestown Grade 1.
Her two chase runs have been excellent as she was pitched into a Grade 2 for a winning debut at Cork before another solid success at Limerick.
She needs to improve her jumping a little but it’s early days over the bigger obstacles and there should be more to come.
The others look to have something to find on form but Zambella has taken well to chases and landed Listed successes at Aintree and Doncaster either side of Christmas.
She didn’t have to come out of first gear when going from the front to win at Uttoxeter last time.
This is tougher but she’s only seven so could step up.
Vienna Court has been consistent and landed two good handicap wins here earlier this season. This is harder but her track form is a plus.
HOLLOW GAMES brings Grade 1 form to this handicap thanks to his good third behind Minella Cocooner at the Dublin Racing Festival.
He was only run out of that classy contest late and he won a decent contest over this trip at Navan in November.
He has a good conditional on board and should go mighty close again.
Langer Dan was a good second in this race 12 months ago and is only 2lb higher in the weights today.
He looked very rusty at Taunton latest and will do better here. Banbridge caught the eye when winning at Navan.
He battled well there and he will be staying on up the hill.
The Goffer landed a Grade 3 at Thurles with a little left in the tank and looks the type to improve again.
His mark of 140 gives him a chance. Gordon Elliott has a few other hopes and Chemical Energy is worth a look.
He ran in the Champion Bumper here last season and has won both hurdles starts over this trip.
His staying power will come in handy up the hill.
The yard’s I A Connect and Au Fleuron have also shown enough to have an each-way shout.
Adamantly Chosen had shown promise in big fields before getting off the mark at Thurles last time by an impressive 27 lengths.
He steps up in distance here but looks the type to benefit from that.
Earlofthecotswolds has been in great form on the all-weather with two wins and won a decent race over timber at Newbury in November.
Templegate’s tips for every race in the UK on Friday are below.
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