After winning seven on the bounce, even-money favourite Unowhatimeanharry dominates the market for this year’s Cleeve Hurdle and shouldn’t have many issues giving weight away to most of the field.
Some will argue Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Ballyoptic might have won the Long Walk Hurdle when falling at the last, while the 4lb pull he receives from the favourite certainly bolsters his claims of reversing the form today.
I’m less convinced – and even less so about the claims of most of the remaining field of 15’s claims, but Nicky Henderson’s French mare KOTKIKOVA could have been underestimated at 14/1 on her first start in Britain.
A prolific winner in France before being purchased by leading owner J P McManus, she made her debut for Henderson in Grade 1 company in Ireland a month ago, finishing fifth, nine lengths behind Willie Mullins’s leading mare Vroum Vroum Mag.
As Barry Geraghty has obviously opted for Unowhatimeanharry, Daryl Jacob picks up the ride and expects plenty of improvement from that trip to Ireland.
“I thought she ran a nice race on her first start for Nicky at Leopardstown, shaping as if she needed it a bit before running on well. It was encouraging and she’s a very exciting ride in a hot race.”
Priced up at 14/1 with several firms, she looks to be decent each-way value with improvement likely and her consistent record in France suggesting she’ll hit the frame.
0.75pt each-way Kotkikova @14/1, 16:00 Cheltenham, Saturday (1,2,3,4, 1/5, SkyBet)
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