Another devilishly competitive handicap with plenty of horses possessing a live chance in this. Recent trends suggest that horses who carry less than eleven stone seem to have the edge in this and eyes are immediately drawn to David Pipe’s French import, KING’S SOCKS who is having just his second start in Great Britain over fences.
David Pipe has suggested King’s Socks is his best chance of the meeting and not many novices have picked up the Brown Advisory Plate, but it was won last year by Road To Respect and King’s Socks warmed up for this with a decent enough looking reappearance run after 607 days off the track at Kempton Park.
He finished about eight lengths behind the 154 rated Modus – who is entered in the JLT Novice Chase earlier in the day – but that was solid considering the length of Tully East’s absence.
His last run before that was a two and a half length defeat to Tuesday’s Arkle winner Footpad in a 2m 4f Grade 1 hurdle in Auteuil. King’s Socks is hugely unexposed and has to enter calculations for a yard that has a fantastic record in this race.
With the ground set to remain extremely testing, his light weight should be a big advantage and he has plenty of form on soft ground in France.
He has not gone under the radar in the market, however, but a price of 8/1 still seems fair enough and with a mark of 140 potentially massively underestimating him, he is one to keep on the right side of.
TULLY EAST has a phenomenal record at The Festival having picked up the Close Brothers Novice Chase last season over course and distance (from Gold Present) and was previously fourth in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle in 2016.
Both of those races were on better ground, but he has plenty of form on soft-heavy going in Ireland including a Listed hurdle success, and he has shaped in eye-catching fashion on his two chase starts this season travelling strongly and jumping really well.
His light preparation demonstrates that he has been laid out for this, and although he possibly carries a couple of pound or two higher than would necessarily be ideal for this on recent trends, he should still be very competitive off his current mark of 148 which has likely been preserved.
Tully East had a prep run over an inadequate trip last month at Leopardstown when he finished 3/20 behind a decent sort in Patrick’s Park and that should have put him spot on for this and a big run is expected.
0.75pts each-way King’s Socks @8/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Thursday (1/4 odds, 1,2,3,4 places Betvictor)
0.75pts each-way Tully East @11/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Thursday (1/4 odds, 1,2,3,4 places Betfair)