14.05 Cheltenham: If In Doubt the Pertemps punt
The unexposed If In Doubt could well have got in lightly and looks the answer to a fiendishly competitive 24-runner Pertemps Final.
The JP McManus-owned gelding looked a handicapper to keep onside when winning by five lengths on his seasonal reappearance at Towcester over 2m 4f off a mark of 124.
He then confirmed that impression in the valuable class 1 Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton over 2m 5f, where he stayed on strongly to finish a six-length runner-up to Saphir Du Rheu.
Although no match for the easy winner that day, the form has been given a solid look by the winner going on to land the Welsh Champion Hurdle off a 13lb higher mark of 158 and Paul Nicholls’ gelding is now officially rated 165.
Given that If In Doubt was receiving just 8lb from him that day, that suggests his current mark of 140 could well be on the lenient side.
The Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old also seemed to relish the step up to 3m last time out when beaten just 1/2 a length by Fingal Bay at Exeter, where he was given plenty to do and gaining hand over fist at the finish.
He is now set to meet that rival on 1lb better terms, and with the prospect of more to come, is taken to reverse the placings with his stable companion, who looks to have it all to do under a welter burden of 11st 12lb.
Others worth considering at bigger odds are Jetson and Lie Forrit.
The former is trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington and has run some solid races in big-field handicaps.
Those include an excellent third in this race last season off a mark of 137, and a fine second of 20 to Battle Group at Aintree off a mark of 143.
He now gets into this off just 1lb higher than at Aintree, having bounced back to form last time out at Punchestown when beating Thunder And Roses in a 16-runner affair.
With the ground and trip fine, he looks a big player.
The Lucinda Russell-trained Lie Forrit has wins to his name at Aintree and this track, and ran really well on his penultimate start when a two-length third of 17 to Gevrey Chambertin in a strong-looking contest at Haydock.
Rated 155 at his peak, he gets into this off 140 – just 2lb higher than at Haydock – and on that run looks a lively outsider and decent each-way value.