2016 Cheltenham Festival ante post plays: Upswing the Ultima choice

David Metcalf | February 29, 2016

Upswing has plenty going for him in Ultima Handicap Chase

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has an excellent record in the Ultima Handicap Chase, and his unexposed Upswing looks decent ante post value at 16/1 with Coral in this year’s renewal of the 3m 1f contest at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, March 15th.

O’Neill has won three of the last seven runnings, saddling Wichita Lineman and Alfie Sherrin to land gambles in 2009 and 2012 respectively and Holywell to land the spoils under 11st 6lb in 2014.

Like Wichita Lineman and Alfie Sherrin, Upswing carries the famous green and gold hoops of leading Irish owner JP McManus who also won the race in 2003 with Youlneverwalkalone.

McManus and O’Neill a deadly combination


McManus loves nothing more than to lay one out for a punt at the four-day spectacular, and O’Neill has a superb record with his staying chasers.

In Upswing, the pair have an eight-year-old who was a useful staying hurdler and prior to being pulled-up last time out in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow had shown progressive form in four starts over fences.

After opening his account in good style at Worcester when scoring easily by eight lengths, Upswing posted a career-best performance on his penultimate outing when chasing home Sausolito Sunrise in a competitive 17-runner contest at Cheltenham.

The gelding was held-up at the rear by jockey Barry Geraghty before making stealthy headway three from home and staying on strongly after the last to go down by just 1 1/4 lengths.

It was a most taking performance for one so inexperienced and, although Upswing has been raised 3lb for it, he remains unexposed over fences and open to stacks more improvement.

Form of Cheltenham run very strong

Sausolito Sunrise, from whom Upswing was receiving just 5lb, has also gone on to land a valuable handicap chase at Ascot and is now rated 163.

That gives the form a strong look and suggests that Upswing is ahead of the assessor and potentially very well-treated off a mark of 139.


I am also more than prepared to put a line through Upswing’s run in the Welsh Grand National, as he was never travelling at any stage on horrendous ground.

Connections have also resisted the temptation to run the son of Beneficial again before the Festival, presumably as they believe Upswing is well handicapped and want to protect his mark.

O’Neill is the master at getting his horses spot on for the big day, and Upswing looks to have the perfect profile to run a huge race in the Ultima.


Be sure to visit Coral’s Cheltenham page for all the latest news and tips in the build-up and during the Festival.

Coral’s ante post play: Upswing each-way at 16/1 for the Ultima Handicap Chase.

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