Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Grand Annual Glory Awaits Mister Stickler

Well, here we are, the final race of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival and it you haven’t found a winner so far, this is your last chance.

Mister Stickler
© Racehorse Photos

Mister Stickler

The Grand Annual has a couple of trends that have not been breached for at least 10-years, the most significant of which is the weight carried has been 10st 11lb or less. In addition, no winner has had more than 12 races over fences and those trends narrow the field down nicely if applied.

Novices have a fair record and Alan King won this with Oh Crick in 2009 with Wayne Hutchinson in the saddle. All these thoughts lead me to be firmly onside with Mister Stickler who looks a massive price at 33/1. Lightly-raced over hurdles, the 7-y-o has had 5-runs over fences this time and has probably not been suited by the small fields. To my mind, he looks a horse who can go on to much better things and although he lacks course experience, I think he is capable of going very well.

Given this race is named after Nicky Henderson’s late father, it is reasonable to expect the Lambourn trainer to target the race. That he has openly done and both Tanks For That and Anquetta appear to have decent claims. The former was my ante-post selection and on his second to Woolcombe Folly here in December, he must have a very sound chance. Raised 7lb for that but could still be well-treated and definitely one to include.

Pigeon Island came into this last year off the back of a run of poor runs blighted by bad jumping. That didn’t stop him winning this race with a degree of ease though and given how often history repeats itself at this meeting, he is also worth a second look at 20/1+.

Of the rest, Ferdy Murphy’s Beggars Cap is a regular outside fancy for this and although something was amiss last year, he went well for a long way in 2009 and may even have won had he not unshipped his rider 3-out. Sam Twiston-Davies rode him on his recent warm up race and there was definite promise there. One to keep a close eye on and owned, like Mister Stickler, by Trevor Hemmings.

Northern raider Quito Du Tresor has jumped round here a couple of times and I think he was sent here for the experience with this race in mind so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the shake-up for Lucinda Russell.

Recommendation: Mister Stickler


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