17:30 Cheltenham - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
Langer Dan has been one of the most spoken of horses at this meeting ever since it became clear he would attempt to go one better than his fine second in last season's renewal. Apparently aimed at the race ever since, he made his comeback at Taunton last month and his performance in that race (Finished Last) and the handicappers decision to drop him three pounds as a result, has sparked controversy. Moving away from all of that debate and back onto the task at hand, a reproduction of his effort from last year puts him bang in the firing line and it is very easy to forget he also won last season's Imperial Cup in devastating fashion. Genuine Heavy ground would pose something of a question mark for Dan Skelton's six-year-old though there is no horse as obviously talented as Galopin Des Champs this time around and compensation may well await.
Hollow Games has placed in Grade One company the last twice and has rock solid form claims, his ability to handle taxing conditions is a serious positive and Gordon Elliott has a good recent record in the race.
Adamantly Chosen looks highly progressive and he is bred to be suited by this step up in trip, hailing from the same yard as last seasons winner, he looks sure to go well although he can be a bit free in his races.
Freedom To Dream has something to find with Hollow Games on the pair's running last time, however, his rider didn't appear overly hard on him and his trainer is very shrewd with his runners. Allowed to race off a mark of one hundred and thirty five here, there is a suspicion that this race has always been the plan and he appears likely to have this run to suit.
Banbridge is three from five over timber and is another to consider for a yard that has won the race before, his form definitely needs improving upon though he is likely to appreciate the step up in trip and is likely to go well. Cobblers Dream arrives here on the back of winning the Lanzarote at Kempton and is chasing the hat-trick after winning at Doncaster the time before, dismissing his chances out of hand would be foolish though he needs yet more today.
Plenty of the rest can have cases made and significant market moves would make a whole number of them interesting, all that being said, Langer Dan is taken to punish the handicappers decision to drop him three pounds and Freedom To Dream can reach the frame at a price.
written by Chris Connolly