Cheltenham preview (12.45): Alternatif is New Year’s Day ace
David Metcalf | January 1, 2016
Alternatif scored in good style last time out, so can make light of a rise in the weights to follow-up in the 3m 2f handicap chase at Cheltenham (12.45).
The gelding had some useful form over hurdles when trained in France, and looked one to keep onside when making a winning debut for trainer David Pipe in a competitive handicap hurdle at Kempton 12 months ago when beating Theinval by a neck.
Alternatif went on to finish runner-up on his next four starts, and shaped with bags of promise on chasing debut at this venue when third of 12 to Knock House.
After being held-up well off the pace, the five-year-old made stealthy headway three from home before keeping on well to go down by 5 1/4 lengths.
It was a most taking performance in a hot contest for the grade, and Alternatif duly built on it to land a 3m 1f contest at Fontwell on soft ground at the beginning of last month off a mark of 133.
Although the margin of victory was only a length, Alternatif idled when hitting the front and was value for more than the winning margin.
A 4lb rise for that success looks more than fair, especially as Alternatif remains unexposed over the larger obstacles after just three starts and is clearly on an upward curve.
Will punters Beg To Differ about the Perfect Candidate?
The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding caught the eye last time out when a tenderly handled third to the highly regarded Aubusson at Uttoxeter, and an opening mark of 133 looks exploitable given that horses from the stable often improve dramatically when going down the handicap route.
Another that looks sure to make his presence felt is the Fergal O’Brien trained Perfect Candidate.
The eight-year-old has posted two cracking efforts at the track this season, and in the last of those was beaten just 3 3/4 lengths when fifth of 17 to Sausolito Sunrise in a competitive class 1 contest.
This class 2 affair represents a drop in class, and a reproduction of that run makes Perfect Candidate a big player off an unchanged mark.