Latenightpass is the top choice in the prestigious Cheltenham race.

The races on the Cross-Country track at Britain’s top jumps course are often criticized, but the race on Friday features three winners of Grade One races.
The Cross-Country course at Cheltenham, which has been around for nearly 30 years, has been the site of three of Tiger Roll’s five Festival victories, including two Grand National wins. Both the leading horses and jockeys have had consistently strong performances on this unique circuit. McGregor The Third, who won the inaugural race on the course in 1995, was also the first horse to win multiple times. Other popular favorites like Spot Thedifference with seven wins and Garde Champetre with six wins have followed suit.
Despite these achievements, there are still many bettors who don’t value the cross-country track at Cheltenham. For some, the three races held on this track each season are considered unnecessary.
However, even the most skeptical individuals might be convinced by Friday’s 13-runner handicap race. Three of the participants have won Grade One races, including Minella Indo, who won the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021.
Minella Indo’s career has been inconsistent since his Gold Cup triumph, but he finished second in the following year’s race, where Galvin, also running in Friday’s race, finished fourth. The third Grade One winner in the field is Fury Road, who is rated just 4lb behind Minella Indo and 1lb behind Galvin.
All three horses will carry at least 12lb more weight than their competitors, which makes it an intriguing challenge for bettors. It’s possible that Latenightpass, who has finished first and fourth in the Foxhunters’ at Aintree in the past two seasons, could start as the favorite at odds of around 7-2.
“This is obviously a new discipline for him, but he has done plenty of cross-country schooling at home,” said Rachael Blackmore, Minella Indo’s jockey, in her Betfair blog on Thursday. “And he has also had a pop over some of the obstacles at Cheltenham.
“Of course, you can’t beat racing experience around that track, but he has shown us plenty with the cross-country bits that he has done. He has to give weight away to all his rivals, but he’s a Gold Cup winner that retains a lot of ability and I’m hoping that he can run well.”
Minella Indo is still relatively young at 10 years old, and if he adapts well to this new challenge, his talent could prevail. However, winning for the first time on this track while carrying more weight than experienced rivals is quite a task.
As a result, Latenightpass (3.00), who was beaten by less than two lengths in his cross-country debut last month, might be a more favorable bet on Friday. In other races on the Cheltenham card, Bold Endeavour (3.35) has many favorable aspects, including Freddie Gordon’s 5lb claim, in the concluding handicap hurdle. Walk In Clover (1.50) could also perform well in the mares’ handicap chase, building on a promising run in the November meeting.

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