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Here’s our Cheltenham Festival betting predictions for Friday’s card:
1:30 APPLE’S SHAKIRA @ 7/4
With three convincing Cheltenham victories already under her belt, Apple’s Shakira has rock-solid credentials in the Triumph Hurdle. Nicky Henderson will be seeking a record seventh win in the race and he said: “She is great. She gets the allowance (for fillies), she comes here unbeaten and I couldn’t be happier with her.”
2:10 FLYING TIGER @ 12/1
Flying Tiger sprang a 33/1 surprise when swooping late to land the Fred Winter 12 months ago and we’re hoping a return to Cheltenham brings out the best in him. Nick Williams’ charge has shown glimpses of promise in some hot contests this term and can also boast a victory on very soft ground at Compiegne from his early days in France.
2:50 CHRIS’S DREAM @ 11/2
Chris’s Dream changed hands for £175,000 in December and that looked money well spent when he spreadeagled a decent field on heavy going at Clonmel on his first start for Henry De Bromhead. The Irish handler commented: “We liked him, but we didn’t expect him to do it like that. He seems in good form and looks really well.”
3:30 OUR DUKE @ 4/1
Jessica Harrington suffered a setback when Sizing John was ruled out of defending his Gold Cup crown but she can have the last laugh with stablemate Our Duke. Last year’s Irish Grand National hero showed his well-being with a gutsy triumph at Gowran Park recently and runner-up Presenting Percy franked that form when bolting up in Wednesday’s RSA Chase.
4:10 WONDERFUL CHARM @ 6/1
Wonderful Charm will be making his fifth appearance at the Cheltenham Festival and is taken to go one better than when a neck second to stablemate Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter 12 months ago. Top amateur Sam Waley-Cohen will be in the saddle this time and the pair got on well together when hacking up on soft ground at Musselburgh last month.
4:50 DIESE DES BIEFFES @ 7/1
Diese Des Bieffes went into the notebook when plugging on gamely to be fifth of 16 in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in mid-January and this lightly-raced five-year-old should be suited by a stiffer finish up the Cheltenham hill. That was only his fourth race over timber, so he remains relatively unexposed, and James Bowen would be amongst the best young jockeys in this event.
5:30 NORTH HILL HARVEY @ 7/1
North Hill Harvey has a few questions to answer after a below-par effort at Warwick recently, but an impressive Cheltenham record makes him worth sticking with. Dan Skelton’s charge landed the Greatwood Hurdle in November 2016 and was winning here for the fourth time when beating River Wylde by a wide margin on soft ground four months ago.
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