National Hunt Chase Cup Tips - 5:30pm Cheltenham

2020 National Hunt Chase Preview

The National Hunt Cup closes the first day of the Festival and this year sees the race run over a new trip for the first time. The race is one of the oldest at the Festival having been first run in 1860 and known as the longest race too.

Despite being trimmed a couple of furlongs to 3m6f it will still be the most demanding test of the four days and with the added fact that all horses are to be ridden by Amateur jockeys just adds to the interest.

Last season 18 runners started out and only four finished and a couple of those were out on their feet and should have arguably been pulled up earlier. This led to an outcry regarding the welfare of the horses hence the reduction in distance.

To be honest it won’t make any difference to the make-up of the race at all, the vast majority of runners will still be out to prove their stamina and going into the unknown.

The Irish have won this race five times since 2011, three for Gordon Elliott and two for Willie Mullins, it’s not that surprising that they have some very good young staying chasers.

Mullins looks to have a decent chance with Carefully Selected this year, last season the 8yo ended up finishing 3rd in a Grade 1 hurdle over three miles and a switch to fences was always going to be on the cards.

He has had three starts over the bigger obstacles now and has won all of them in decent style. He beat City Island at Punchestown back in January by 24 lengths and then followed that with another Grade 3 victory at Naas next time out, this time coming home four lengths clear of Forza Milan. He made mistakes that day so will need brush up his jumping around here but he does look a strong stayer.

It’s a race that Willie Mullins holds close to his heart having ridden the winner in both 1982 and 1984 for his late father Paddy.

Gordon Elliott has a strong team of novice chasers but lost his main hope Champagne Classic due to an injury that has put him out for the season. Ravenhill could be a suitable substitute, the 10yo was busy in the summer and has been given a break since falling at Navan in November. He's still got plenty of miles left on the clock and could improve over this trip. The added bonus of Jamie Codd in the saddle will also give clout to his chances.

Dereck O'Connor is another leading Amatuer and anything he rides needs close inspection. His mount this year is Forza Milan. The 8yo has been in good form of late and his second behind Carefully selected at Naas was a decent effort. He's only had three starts since leaving Jonjo O'Neill so could have more to offer yet.

The home team is led by Lord Du Mesnil who will be ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen for tariner Richard Hobson. He's been in fine form all season and won three races on the bounce in November and December. Last time out his winning run came to an end when he was second to Smooth Stepper in the Haydock National trial but that was still a very good effort. He stays all day and should be thereabouts.

If you want a progressive young chaser then look no further than Springfield Fox, he was rated just 117 when winning at Chepstw on on his chasing debut in January. He won that by 12 lengths and then went to Exeter the following month off a 10lb higher mark. He bolted up once again, this time by 17 lengths.

The handicapper has raised him to a mark of 142 now so that a jump of 25lbs in two starts which just shows how much he has improved lately. Noel George takes the ride and must have a chance.

Punters Lounge Tip: Carefully Selected 13/8 at Betfair - Click Here To Bet
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