The first big handicap of the Cheltenham Festival is the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase over 3m 1f.
It is one of eleven handicaps run at the Festival and trying to guess some of the runners for this race is almost impossible. It's the 2nd of March now, only two weeks away from this race and Bet365 still have odds for over 100 horses in this race. There have been 24 runners in two of the last three races so we can expect around 80 horses to be cut from the final declarations.
I will give my opinion on a few horses that I expect to run but please be aware that trainers can change their plans over the next two weeks if the horses have multiple entries.
It is worth noting that favourites have a poor record in this race with only one favourite being triumphant in the last 15 runnings of this race.
The likely favourite of this race in my opinion. Warren Greatrex says that Out Sam is potentially very well handicapped and would have the class to run in the RSA Chase where he is also entered. Greatrex said that he would be stupid not to try and take advantage of his 139 official rating in a handicap after the form of his Newbury victory has worked out so well. Out Sam was a faller at the Festival last year when coming to grief at the 8th hurdle in the Albert Bartlett.
If Out Sam went for the RSA Chase then stablemate Aloomomo would probably take his place here.
THE YOUNG MASTER
Last years winner The Druids Nephew went for the Cleeve hurdle before coming and taking this race 12 months ago and now The Young Master tries to do the same. Although he was well beaten in the Cleeve Hurdle behind Thistlecrack I think you can discount that form as it was on very heavy ground. His 4th before that race at Ascot is much more like it where he was a staying on 3rd behind an in form rival Wakanda. 3m's on good ground at Cheltenham is much more like it for The Young Master and there has even been talk of him being a potential Gold Cup horse. A very interesting contender.
I mentioned earlier how tough it is to try and guess where trainers are going to send their handicappers and this is a fine example. Doctor Harper is entered in three of the Handicap Chases at the Festival. He's in here, in the Brown Advisory over 2m 5f and the Kim Muir over 3m 2f but I'd say this is where he is most likely to appear. Doctor Harper would have to carry a big weight in the Kim Muir and I think we are more likely to see him over 3m's than 2m 5f. David Pipe is one of the shrewdest trainers in these handicaps so wherever he decides to send Doctor Harper, I expect a good performance.