2020 Grand Annual tips – Two tips for day four handicap chase

Croco Bay Grand Annual Cheltenham Festival

Croco Bay (near) powers home after the last to win the Grand Annual in 2019.

Grand Annual Tips

Jon Vine takes a look through the betting for this handicap chase on day four of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his Grand Annual tips on Friday 13th March.

The most historic of all the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand Annual has played a crucial role on Gold Cup day for the better part of 200 years. I enjoyed success in this race two years ago, highlighting Le Prezien as one of my top Cheltenham Festival tips, and Paul Nicholls’ charge duly obliged.

I’ve looked at the recent history of the Grand Annual, picking out three key trends. I then cast my eye through the entries and picked out my two Grand Annual tips.

Three Key Trends

  • All of the last ten winners had won at least twice over two miles
  • Nine of the last ten winners had run at least once at Cheltenham
  • Eight of the last ten winners had run in a Grade One at some point in their careers

Classy Novices

There are several interesting first-season chasers sitting prominently in the day four betting. Paul Nicholls’ Greaneteen has impressed on both of his most recent starts, and Alan King’s Lisp is a consistent handicapper who’s adapted to chasing well.

Both are sure to feature in many people’s Cheltenham Festival tips. Éclair De Beaufeu is the novice who interests me most, though. Gordon Elliott’s charge looked to be mounting a winning assault in last year’s County Hurdle before his untimely fall at the last, and returns to Cheltenham on the back of a snug triumph over Paloma Blue at Leopardstown.

While I think Éclair De Beaufeu holds appeal, experience is preferred in the Grand Annual. Only two of the last ten editions were won by novices, and eight of the last ten winners had started at least seven races over fences.

Grand Annual Tips – Tip One

An interesting recent trend that’s cropped up in the Grand Annual is that horses returning for a another crack at this handicap have a very good record. All of the last five winners had previously run in this day four handicap, and there have been several horses in that time who’ve placed on numerous occasions.

While this trend could be used to argue a case for both Magic Saint and Not Another Muddle, my preference is for Paul Nicholls’ BRELAN D’AS (12/1 Unibet). See which free bet offers Unibet is staging for Cheltenham.

Bryony Frost’s mount finished third as a novice in last year’s Grand Annual, coming up just three lengths short of Croco Bay. Although he hasn’t managed to win, Brelan D’As has shaped with plenty of promise on all three of his starts so far this term.

Happy Diva Brelan D'As BetVictor Gold Cup Cheltenham

Brelan D’As loses out narrowly to Happy Diva (right) in the BetVictor Gold Cup.

Nicholls’ charge fell when going well here in October, before going down by just a neck to Happy Diva in the BetVictor Gold Cup. Barry Geraghty’s mount looked to be mounting another strong challenge on his return to Cheltenham racecourse in December, but a terrible error at the third-last put paid to his chances in the Caspian Caviar.

Brelan D’As has been taken down the same path stablemate Le Prezien followed on his way to Grand Annual glory two years ago, running in the three exact same races before a lengthy break to freshen him up. He may sit seven pounds higher in the handicap this time around, but the presence of two 155-rated rivals in Great Field and Magic Saint would see Brelan D’As carry just 11-00 into battle. He looks a solid each-way Cheltenham Festival tip.

Grand Annual Tips – Tip Two

A fairly left-field selection, but I really like the look of ADRRASTOS (25/1 Ladbrokes) for the in-form Jamie Snowden stable. Having returned from a 500-day lay-off with a smart victory at Hereford last March, Addrastos made the running in the Red Rum Handicap, and clung on gamely to snatch a valuable slice of place money.

Snowden’s eight-year-old then enjoyed a busy summer campaign, winning three times to push his rating up to a career-high mark of 142. Adrrastos hasn’t been seen since the end of October, but I’m sure his absence has been by design, and all of the previous five Grand Annual winners came into the race good and fresh.

Jamie Snowden isn’t amongst the most successful trainers at the Cheltenham Festival, but he’s enjoying his best season to date. Gavin Sheehan has also tasted success in some major races this term, and he will likely renew his partnership with this likeable front-runner. At 25/1, Adrrastos looks an excellent each-way punt, and he will round off my Grand Annual tips.

Note

Dynamite Dollars features in the entries, and Brelan D’As’ and Adrrastos’ weights would lower by five pounds if he was to take his chance. However, I’d be really surprised if Paul Nicholls’ chaser didn’t run in the Champion Chase. Listen to Daryl Carter’s video preview of the Champion Chase here….

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