Top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has a fine record in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase and Ravenhill looks value to further enhance it with victory in the 3n 6f contest on Cheltenham Festival day 1 this Tuesday (17:30).
The County Meath handler has won three of the last 10 renewals courtesy of Chicago Grey (2011), Cause Of Causes (2015) and Tiger Roll (2017).
In Ravenhill, he has a 10-year-old that is unexposed over fences having won twice and been placed on two occasions in just six starts.
After an easy nine-length chase debut victory at Limerick, the son of Winged Love ran below par when sent off odds-on and beaten six lengths at Kilbeggan.
Ravenhill then showed that running to be all wrong when resuming winning ways back at Limerick, before finishing a fine fifth of 22 to Borice in the 2m 6f Galway Plate .
He got impeded on more than one occasion in the latter and, after being 17th at halfway, stayed on well to be nearest at the finish and beaten just over 10 lengths.
It was a fine effort, given how the race panned out. Ravenhill backed that up with a cracking head second of 16 to Poker Party in the 3m Kerry National at Listowel.
Good record fresh
After being waited with in rear under Denis O’Regan, he made stealthy headway before a mistake at the second last when looking the likely winner.
It cost Ravenhill ground at a vital stage, so it was to his credit that he rallied strongly and only just failed to get up.
He was fancied by many for the valuable Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan, but fell at the 11th when yet to be asked a serious question.
Ravenhill has since been given a break and saved for this. That looks like a shrewd move as he has a good record fresh.
Elliott has also secured the services of crack amateur rider Jamie Codd, who partnered Cause Of Causes to victory five years ago, to do the steering.
That is a massive plus and Ravenhill’s run in the Kerry National suggests he should have no problem with the extra three-quarters of a mile in this.
He also has proven form on soft ground, so there is nothing not to like about his profile for this.
At 6/1 with Ladbrokes, Ravenhill thus makes plenty of appeal against red-hot favourite Carefully Selected who is very hit and miss at his fences and simply has to be taken on at the odds on offer.
Discorama weighted to strike in Ultima on Cheltenham Festival day 1
Discorama looks nicely treated on the pick of his form and worth siding with to make third time lucky at the meeting earlier on Cheltenham Festival day 1 in the 3m 1f Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase (14:50).
Trained In Ireland by Paul Nolan, this seven-year-old carries the colours of Paisley Park’s owner Andrew Gemmell and has run very well in each of the last two years here.
He was first runner-up to Blow by Blow in the 2018 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Discorama then filled the same spot when going down all guns blazing and beaten just half-a-length by Le Breuil in a gruelling renewal of the National Hunt Chase 12 months ago when it was run over a trip just short of 4m.
He went on to finish a fine 12-length runner-up to Delta Work in a Grade 1 over 3m at the Punchestown Festival off an official rating of 149.
The winner, who is now rated 171, has won two Grade 1s this season and is currently second-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup here on Friday.
A Plus Tard, who finished just over two lengths behind Discorama in third, has previously bolted up by 16 lengths in the Close Brothers at this meeting and beat Chacun Pour Soi by just under four lengths in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.
Punchestown form extremely strong
That gives the form an extremely strong look in relation to this lower grade handicap. Discorama is able to race off what looks a very exploitable mark of 148.
There was also lots to like about his return to action at Wexford when second to Champagne Classic and beaten just under four lengths without being given an unduly hard time.
Discorama was then far from disgraced when eighth of 23 to Chris’s Dream under top weight in the Troytown at Navan, before finishing a well-beaten third to Easywork when switched back to hurdles at Limerick when last seen in action back in December.
He has since undergone wind surgery and Nolan has clearly ran him over hurdles in his final prep to protect his chase mark for this.
On his aforementioned run behind Delta Work, Discorama looks to have major claims from a handicapping perspective under Bryan Cooper who was in the plate that day.
Nolan has clearly laid him out for this, so odds of 9/1 with BetVictor make plenty of appeal in a typically wide-open and fierce renewal of the Ultima in which 24 are set to go to post.
There are others in with chances on Cheltenham Festival day 1 in this hot handicap, but Discorama who goes in a first-time tongue tie gets the nod.
Beakstown appeals each-way on Cheltenham Festival day 1 in Northern Trust
In the Listed 2m 4f Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (16:50), Beakstown looks decent each-way value at 14/1 with William Hill who are paying five places.
This Harry Drew owned seven-year-old hails from the in-form yard of Dan Skelton who loves nothing more to lay one out for a big prize of this nature.
The son of Stowaway developed into a smart hurder last season when winning two of his four starts.
In the last of those over 2m 5f at Warwick, he travelled ominously well before staying on strongly to beat Stoney Mountain by 3 3/4 lengths in a Grade 2.
Whatever Beakstown achieved over hurdles was always going to be a plus, as he’s a strapping sort and built to be a chaser.
He has had three starts over the larger obstacles this season, shaping really well first time up at Wetherby when a three-length runner-up to Sam Spinner.
Beakstown then shaped better than the bare result suggests when finishing just over 10 lengths behind Champ when fourth at Newbury, where he raced too keenly and pecked badly four out before weakening late on.
He was also not given a hard time when last seen in action at this venue and finishing a 16 1/4 lengths third of six to Mister Fisher, who has since won a Grade 2 at Doncaster, to be rated 148.
Beakstown now makes his eagerly awaited handicap debut off a mark of 139. That is 3lb lower than what he was rated after winning over hurdles at Warwick.
It gives him a big shout at the weights and it looks significant that connections are now fitting him with cheekpieces for the first time, as they have a good record when adopting such tactics.