Cheltenham Festival 2015: Foxhunter Chase preview (16:00)
Aerial has won his last two starts in facile fashion and looks a bit of value in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (16:00).
The nine-year-old, winner of four of his 13 races under rules for Paul Nicholls, opened his pointing account by trotting up at the Hursley Hambledon in December.
Trained by Jack Barber, this gelding then put in an even more impressive display to qualify for this in the Royal Artillery Men’s Open at Larkhill.
In what looked a decent line-up, Aerial made all and drew clear from three out to win in a canter by 10 lengths from Otto the Great.
Judged on the manner of those successes, Aerial is right at the top of his game, and when trained by Nicholls he had some very smart form to his name.
They included a good sixth of 18 to the classy Al Ferof in a valuable contest at this venue and a second to Conyegree over hurdles in a Grade 2 contest at the track.
Aerial was rated 155 at his peak and, with the competent Will Biddick in the saddle, could take some pegging back if allowed an easy lead.
Paint The Clouds heads the betting, having won his last four starts and is an obvious danger.
The Warren Greatrex trained 10-year-old is a good jumper and strong traveller, and looked better than ever on his seasonal reappearance last month when slamming Quinz by 10 lengths at Doncaster.
That was Paint The Cloud’s first run for 264 days, and the gelding looks sure to come on significantly for the outing.
Another plus is that he has the services of crack amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen in the saddle, and it’s hard to see Paint The Clouds not being in the thick of the action at the business end of affairs.
On The Fringe is running in the race for the third time, and looks the main hope for Ireland in final day Festival contest.
The 10-year-old finished fourth in 2011 and third behind Tammy’s Hill in last year’s renewal, and looks sure to make another bold bid.
However, the Enda Bolger trained gelding has struggled to get home up the hill in those previous attempts after travelling strongly and may once again have to settle for place money.