1pt win Minella Crooner @7/1, 17:30 Cheltenham, Tuesday

3m6f (Old) WellChild National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

There isn’t that much to like about many of the runners entered in the National Hunt Chase this year. None more so than the fav, Gaillard Du Mesnil, who seems to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on nearly every single run.

He’s not my idea of a banker favourite here even if the opposition looks pretty poor. Admittedly, he is by far the best horse on ratings and he will have no issue with the soft ground so in all likelihood he should win, but I can’t be having him at even money with a shade of odds-on in places.

Mahler Mission clearly has enough in his form to suggest that he can put in a challenge, but he’s another that is hard to get too excited about. Mister Coffey never wins and the rags all seem to have too much to prove, albeit Coolvalla might be the pick of them and has seen some support from 66/1 to 20/1.

Consequently, it generally pays to follow the best amateur jockeys. J J Codd is probably the best of the lot, but Chemical Energy wants a sounder surface.

The only one I couldn’t pick significant holes in when looking more closely at the race was MINELLA CROONER.

Minella Crooner has the back class form having finished second in a Grade 1 Novice hurdle behind Minella Cocooner at the Dublin Racing Festival last year. He has been beaten at odds-on several times during his short chasing career and is 1 from 4 in his chase starts, but he has generally raced ok in all of his starts, placing in all of his performances and he looks like such a thorough stayer and out of the three times he has run over three miles, Minella Crooner has won two of them and was pulled up in Punchestown after sustaining an injury last year.

Minella Crooner should be fine on the ground, his jumping is fairly assured and Barry O’Neill was persuaded to take the ride by Gordon Elliott instead of Mahler Mission. Minella Crooner needs to step up a bit on what he has done before, but there is every chance the extra distance will bring out the best in him on his first try at a trip longer than three miles so he’s worth a bet against the fav.

1pt win Minella Crooner @7/1, 17:30 Cheltenham, Tuesday

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