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Handicapper watch: Ohio Gold has prospects in Tuesday’s finale

The Rewards4Racing Handicap Chase brings the curtain down on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival on Tuesday. The two and a half mile event is fiercely competitive but the answer could lie in last year’s running.

Colin Tizzard’s Ohio Gold was a 16-1 shot a year ago, carrying 11st 6lb. He raced prominently throughout and took up the running with two to jump. He could not quicken with Rajdhani Express and Ackertac and had to settle for an honourable third.

The race has produced a host of subsequent winners including Shangani (4th), John’s Spirit (7th) and Restless Harry (12th). Colour Squadron (5th) has also gone on to run well in top handicaps this season.

Trainer Colin Tizzard suffered a major setback on the eve of the festival when having to withdraw Cue Card from the Gold Cup. Ohio Gold has just the single entry at the festival and his campaign appears to have been geared towards a repeat bid.

He came up against some smart novices in his first two starts, trailing in well beaten behind Black Thunder at Fontwell and Valdez at Exeter. He bounced back to his best when jus failing to catch Loose Chips in a Kempton handicap on Boxing Day.

He then ran over course and distance at the end of January, finishing a fair fourth to the well- handicapped Indian Castle. The handicapper has left him on a mark of 132, 2lbs less than a year ago.

His best form has been on soft ground and he should have ideal conditions on Tuesday. He has been placed in all but two of his last twelve races.

Tizzard produced Golden Chieftain at 28-1 to win the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase last year so he knows how to prepare a horse for these tough races. Ohio Gold is used to the hustle and bustle of this race and should give supporters a good run at an each-way price.