TOMORROW will provide some of the final clues for the 2014 Cheltenham Festival – weather permitting of course. There is a stellar cast at Ascot where the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase takes centre stage. Riverside Theatre won this race in 2012 when he got the better of MEDERMIT in a titanic duel. Saturday’s race could be a re-run with Alan King’s grey having his first run for almost two years.
Medermit goes well on soft ground and also tends to perform well fresh. With eight runners, he offers some each-way value. Captain Chris was impressive last time out and should go very close if he repeats that form but he is no value tomorrow. He is entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as is Medermit, who loves Prestbury Park and whose Festival record bears close scrutiny.
Four of the five runners in the opening novice hurdle (1.30) are entered in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival. Un Temps Pour Tout is a real talking horse and could be anything. Our Pollyanna looks overpriced as she is better than she has shown but preference is for COLE HARDEN who looks a thorough stayer and could get them all at it if he sets a strong pace.
It is also D-Day for MANY CLOUDS and Gevrey Chambertin, who are both entered in the RSA Chase. Many Clouds is a grand stamp of a chaser and he is preferred tomorrow.
WILDE BLUE YONDER has impressed this season and would have won at Newbury before taking a nasty fall at the last. He could book his ticket for Cheltenham by taking a warm-looking novice hurdle at 4.20.
If Wincanton survives, the Kingwell Hurdle sees a fascinating clash between MELODIC RENDEZVOUS and Zarkandar. The former is still a Champion Hurdle possible and would have an each-way squeak if the Cheltenham ground comes up very soft. Zarkandar is being aimed at the World Hurdle and is a real tough cookie. Grumeti would also have a say tomorrow if he is back to his best but Melodic Rendezvous is taken to handle the ground better than his two main rivals.
There is also a cracking card at Haydock, where the Betfred Grand National Trial will provide a stern test of stamina. ACROSS THE BAY will get every yard and could give his supporters a good run for their money.
AP McCoy is retained to ride Open Day in the Pertemps Qualifier (3.30) but stablemate FLEMENSON is the one I like. He was very green when winning at Wetherby last time but has clearly got tonnes of ability. He could book his ticket for the Festival where he is entered in the Albert Bartlett.
The imposing but free-going Oscar Rock is upped to three miles in the 4.05 but McCoy is an interesting booking for SEGO SUCCESS. Both are entered in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival and the latter could offer more value tomorrow.
So plenty of last-minute clues for punters looking for Cheltenham Festival horse racing odds with Cole Harden and Many Clouds my two best bets of the day to book their Festival places while Medermit is worth an each-way interest.