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    Reaction to Cheltenham Handicap Weights Unveiling
Reaction to Cheltenham Handicap Weights Unveiling
Last year's handicap race at Cheltenham

Reaction to Cheltenham Handicap Weights Unveiling

With the unveiling of the Cheltenham handicap weights this week, there is much buzz surrounding the adjustments. Irish hurdlers have seen an average uptick of about 3 lbs, whereas chasers now carry an average of 2 lbs more on their previous marks. However, there are notable exceptions to these averages that have caught the eye.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, 16:50 Tuesday

The spotlight was on whether the early frontrunner, Lark In The Mornin, would secure a spot in the race. With a rating of 122 - a 2lb rise from his Irish rating - he appears certain to make the line-up. Historical trends suggest a preference for juveniles with ratings between 125 and 134, a range that has seen nine of the last twelve winners triumph.

Batman Girac emerges as the top hopeful from Closutton, maintaining an unchanged rating of 133. Meanwhile, the French contender, Milan Tino, stands out with an opportunity at a mark of 126, a significant 10lb drop from his French rating of 136, positioning him as a strong contender.

Givemefive has impressed this season, boasting a rating of 126. His odds could be favourable if his connections opt for this path. Despite recent Irish dominance in this race, this British entrant presents an intriguing prospect from an emerging stable.

County Handicap Hurdle, 14:10 Friday

Zenta, holding an unrevised Irish rating of 142, could be a compelling choice at The Festival. Willie Mullins has a penchant for targeting this event with promising young hurdlers, and Zenta fits the bill. Having gained valuable experience in big field handicaps, this five-year-old shows promise for more success.

Gordon Elliott, yet to clinch a County Hurdle victory, has a good chance this year with King Of Kingfield maintaining an unrevised Irish mark of 140. Despite past disappointments, the horse seems to be hitting form and may deliver a standout performance.

Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, 16:50 Wednesday

Saint Roi appears to have been primed for handicaps, securing a rating of 152 from the BHA handicapper. Although his 2lb increase from his Irish rating seems fair, his recent Grade 1 performance at the DRF was underwhelming. With a strong showing at Fairyhouse earlier this year, Saint Roi could be a strong contender for victory.

Notable Changes

While the handicapper has been relatively fair to Irish runners, on the whole, there have been exceptions. Tony Martin's chasers, Read To Return (+11lbs) and Good Time Jonny (+10lbs), faced tougher adjustments. Good Time Jonny, winner of the Pertemps Final last year, has struggled in chase starts this season, making him a less favourable pick.

Similarly, the handicapper has attempted to bridge the gap between chase and hurdle marks for Gabbys Cross, trained by Henry De Bromhead. Despite a notable win at the Galway Blazers in 2022, a switch back to hurdles saw a revitalised performance. Following a positive outing at Punchestown, a 6lb hike may pose a challenge against Irish ratings in the Pertemps.

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