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    Insider Tip for Cheltenham: Unveiling Maskada
Insider Tip for Cheltenham: Unveiling Maskada
Maskada (centre) by Edward Whitaker

Insider Tip for Cheltenham: Unveiling Maskada

The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, a two-mile event on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, is known for its fierce competition. However, in the previous year, Henry de Bromhead's Maskada dominated the field, delivering a commanding performance to clinch victory.

Maskada triumphed by 6 1/2 lengths in the 2023 race, leaving the talented Dinoblue in second place and the 2022 victor Global Citizen trailing in third by 3 lengths.

Following her Cheltenham success last season, Maskada took a break and returned this season with three satisfactory outings in conditions chases at Clonmel, Cork, and Naas. With her stable enjoying recent success, Maskada is poised to make a strong comeback at Cheltenham, especially considering her familiarity and success at the course and distance.

While Maskada has a strong chance for a repeat victory, she faces stiff competition from contenders like the ante-post favourite Saint Roi. Despite Saint Roi's solid track record at Cheltenham, his jumping performance this season has been inconsistent, posing a potential challenge for him in the race. Trainer Willie Mullins, despite his success, has yet to secure a win in the Grand Annual.

In contrast, the Ben Pauling-trained Harper's Brook has struggled at Cheltenham in previous outings, raising doubts about his performance. Another contender, In Excelsis Deo trained by Harry Fry, showed promise at Sandown Park and could pose a significant threat to Maskada with his strong form around Cheltenham.

If Maskada maintains her top form from the previous year, her competitors will need to deliver exceptional performances to unseat her and deny her back-to-back victories in the race.

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