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Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

14:10 Cheltenham - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

Gordon Elliott has landed this contest three times in the last four seasons, mob handed this time around with six runners, the Cullentra House handler appears hell-bent on improving upon that record and his horses are surely the most sensible starting point. Sire Du Berlais won both the 2019 and 2020 renewals and though he appears to have something of a stiff task off top-weight, it is worth remembering that he has defied eleven stone twelve before. Capable outside of handicap company and a fine second in last season's Stayers Hurdle, there is every chance he will simply prove too good for this field and a terrific amount of respect must be afforded.

Dallas Des Pictons has something of a reputation though he went agonisingly close to winning the Martin Pipe here a couple of seasons ago. Fourth in the same race last season, there is every chance he simply comes alive at this time of year and he was a major eye catcher, despite appearing well beaten at Leopardstown last time. Seven pounds claimer Harry Swann will likely attempt to smuggle his partner into the race from a less than advantageous position but he ought to have a decent pace to aim at and he is taken to run into a place at rewarding odds.

Dunboyne has mistakes in him although one would have to suggest he rather has his share of bad luck having been badly hampered twice lately when apparently still going well. Still quite lightly raced for a seven year old, his chance probably hinges on Jack Kennedy plotting the safest course around though his mark looks fair and a big run looks certain if he avoids bother.

Ballyandy may have taken advantage of the conditions when finally bouncing back to form at Fakenham a couple of starts back, quite a few appeared happy to dismiss that as something of a flash in the pan though he dispelled that theory when following up at Chepstow, doing so in fairly emphatic fashion. Still well treated if judged on his best, his age of eleven is off-putting but he could prove dangerous if the rain arrives.

If The Cap Fits has completely lost his form and is hard to trust though he is a former Grade 1 winner. Despite the negatives around his recent form, his mark has plummeted and he did run on quite strongly last time at Sandown after becoming outpaced at a critical stage. Winter Fog was backed off the boards on his first start for Emmet Mullins and ran a fine race despite finishing a fairly well beaten second. Market strength again, would enhance confidence though respect must be respected regardless, given further improvement looks almost certain. The Jam Man and Alaphilippe are selected others with claims but it is hard to get away from Sire Du Berlais and he is taken to make a slice of his own history by landing this for the third time.

written by Chris Connolly

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