Twenty-three novice chasers ridden by amateurs over four miles is not a formula guaranteed to bring out the class horse in a race, but it is still difficult to resist FAR FROM TROUBLE (nap 4.40) in the Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase. He has had only three starts over fences, but in the process showed enough to have been put away for this fully three months ago.
His trainer, Christy Roche, believes that Far From Trouble will come into his own on this better ground, and his jockey will provide expert handling. Only the stable's fairly quiet form tempers enthusiasm for his chance.
The Irish also have excellent prospects in the Pertemps Final, with Hordago, Rooftop Protest and last year's winner, Oulart, holding claims. But the prize can go to their least exposed candidate, According To Billy (next best 5.20), who appears to have been given a very studious preparation.
He improved to beat the useful Mossy Green when stepped up in distance at Thurles in December, only to suffer a setback that left him short of work when tailed off in a qualifier for this at Leopardstown. He shaped better at Gowran Park last month, keeping on into midfield over an inadequate trip, and looks primed to reach a new peak.
The only reservation is that a spot of rain might help, and the same is true of Ross River (4.00), who has made only two starts over fences since joining Tony Martin and seemed much improved in the process. He is ideally equipped for a strongly run race dropped in trip.
The opener gives the British a chance to keep at least one handicap at home. No Full remains well treated but may need softer ground, whereas Idole First (2.00) demonstrated his aptitude for conditions, course and distance when winning over hurdles - off the same mark - at last year's Festival.
Nap: Far From Trouble (Cheltenham 4.40)
NB: According To Billy
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