1pt win Libberty Hunter @5/1, 1pt win Maskada @9/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Wednesday

2m (1m7f199y) (Old) Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

MASKADA has her ground for a repeat success in the Grand Annual and she could be in line for another big run. Whilst she haswn’t run badly, she hasn’t quite shown the same sparkle as last year in three Graded and Listed attempts this season, but she is dropping in class and will have surely be trained for a repeat success in this race. Despite Maskada having an extra 8lbs to carry the form of her win in the race last year behind Dinoblue who is now rated 159, looks very strong, and it would be foolish to think she can’t do back-to-back successes with festival from on soft-heavy ground. Henry De Bromhead’s horses are clearly fine fettle after yesterday’s racing and that’s another big tick in the box for her.

His price is definitely on the skinny side now, but LIBBERTY HUNTER has everything going for him here. He loves the soft ground, has been kept fresh and he doesn’t feel exposed from a handicapping perspective having gone up 7lbs from his win on New Years Day to a mark of 139, ahead of Matata, who finished 4th in the Grade 1 Arkle on Tuesday. He has been targeted at this race for some time by Evan Williams and I fancy him to go very close.

The other one I do like is Madara, who has looked so visually impressive in his last two starts for Sophie Leech. However Madara has run three times at Cheltenham since being picked up by connections. He’s won on the New course, but been beaten twice on the Old course which is a slight negative and he is also worse off with Path D’Oroux and Solness for his handicap victory at the Dublin Racing Festival and has to prove can carry another 10lbs here.

1pt win Libberty Hunter @5/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Wednesday
1pt win Maskada @9/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Wednesday

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