Sunday ITV Racing Tips: Best bets for Cheltenham, Punchestown and Fontwell

Day three of Cheltenham's November meeting comes under the scrutiny of Planet Sport experts, along with the ITV-televised action from Punchestown and Fontwell.

But we'll kick things off with our latest free bet offer which, if you're not already familiar, works like this.

Get up to £20 back as a free bet if your horse places second and is beaten by half a length or less - applies to all live ITV races!

That's a handy concession to have on your side when placing your bets with Planet Sport Bet, with direct links available by clicking on the horse's names below.

Selections:

Empire De Maulde (1.45 Cheltenham)

Sharjah (2.05 Punchestown)

Put The Kettle On (2.20 Cheltenham)

Galice Macalo each-way (2.55 Cheltenham)

Game Line (3.10 Fontwell)

Pikar (3.30 Cheltenham)

Natural History (3.43 Fontwell)

1.45 Cheltenham - Empire De Maulde

He won't be much of a price but all the stats point to Empire De Maulde as the most likely winner of this handicap chase run over a gruelling 3m3f, and James Ewart's seven-year-old can justify favouritism.

In common with ten of the 11 winners since 2010, the selection has already won over 3m - twice in fact - and he also age on his side, with nine recent winners being no older than eight - all five of his rivals this afternoon are aged nine or older.

He's clearly on the up too judging by his latest success at Kelso (3m2f, good), where he only had to be pushed out to win comfortably, and he still looks well treated despite a 5lb rise.

He might be one for the Scottish National in the spring but there's another decent staying prize to be won with him in the meantime, with ground conditions remaining in his favour.

Paul Nicholls' Yala Enki was beaten a short head in last year's renewal under today's pilot Bryony Frost, and the partnership might have to settle for minor honours again.

2.05 Punchestown - Sharjah

It should come as no surprise that Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are responsible for four of the five runners in this 2m Grade 1, with two apiece, and it'll be a shock if one of the quartet doesn't carry off first prize.

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Darasso is the exception and while he does have race fitness on his side, having won a Grade 2 at Navan as recently as last Sunday, his 20/1 price tag tells you that place money is the best he can hope for.

Mullins' Echoes In The Rain has been put in as favourite and that's understandable as she looked progressive in winning four of her five starts last season, including a weak Grade 1 when last seen out in April, and she also gets the 7lb sex allowance.

But this is her toughest assignment to date and Patrick Mullins prefers stablemate Sharjah, who is much the best of these on official ratings and whose experience could prove decisive.

Sharjah's experience could prove decisive

While the now eight-year-old arguably saves his very best for Leopardstown, he does have a course and distance win on his impressive CV and he only found Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle too good in the big Grade 1 run here in April, having chased home the same horse in the Cheltenham equivalent.

Having combined for four Grade 1 victories so far, it's safe to say that Sharjah and Mullins are a match made in heaven and they look a good bet here to make it five, with main challengers Echoes In The Rain and Gordon Elliott's Zanahiyr, who might want further in time, still learning their trade.

Elliott's second-string, Abacadabras, won this race 12 months ago but that was a pretty unsatisfactory contest given how slow they went and how tactical it was. Let's hope there's no repeat this time around.

2.20 Cheltenham - Put The Kettle On

This 2m trip on the Cheltenham Old Course clearly brings out the best in Put The Kettle On, who is 4-4 over the Shloer course and distance, and she's quite rightly favourite to enhance that record further.

Victories in the 2019 Arkle Trial at the 2019 November meeting, the Arkle itself later that season, this race last year and then a game success over Nube Negra, who re-opposes this afternoon and has half a length to find on the same terms, make for an impressive CV.

Put The Kettle On sees off Chacun Pour Soi in Champion Chase thriller

Defending her well-earned crown might prove difficult if Arkle hero Shiskin makes the gig, but this has been a good race for doubling up - Gauvain (2010 and 2011) and Fox Norton (2016 and 2017) both won back-to-back renewals - and she simply has to be the selection.

Nube Negra, who has yet to get his head in front here but has time on his side, is greatly feared of course, and it might have been a different result in March had he not stumbled at the last.

Both the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Politologue, the 2020 Champion Chase winner, and Rouge Vif have a good record fresh, so neither can be discounted.

2.55 Cheltenham - Galice Macalo each-way

Bookmakers are taking no chances with Nicky Henderson's No Ordinary Joe, who has not been seen out since landing the odds in a slowly run novice at Worcester in May and is making his handicap debut this afternoon. He might be up to the task but given his lack of experience and shortish odds, he has to be taken on.

The same comment applies to Dan Skelton's West Cork, who is potentially well treated on his novice form and hails from a stable with an excellent record in big 2m handicap hurdles, winning this one with North Hill Harvey in 2016. But he'll surely be sharper for his first run back for 631 days and he too is best swerved at the odds.

At least that pair are in the right half of the handicap - eight winners since 2010 have carried 11st or less - and that does help to narrow down the field further, with the pick going to Galice Macalo, an improving five-year-old mare with just 10st 7lb to carry (taking her conditional rider's claim into account)

She started last season with a couple of novice wins before finding only one too good on her handicap bow, a Listed contest at Sandown, and it ended with a facile success against her own sex at Chepstow, where she put in an exemplary round of hurdling (not for the first time) on good ground that was clearly up her street.

Returning to the Welsh track on her reappearance last month, she really caught the eye in what was a quality handicap run at a decent pace, looking all over the winner once hitting the front in the early in the straight, only to get run out of it after the last and finish fourth, less than two lengths behind the winner.

That run, which may well have been needed, will have put her spot on for this and she may well benefit too from the application of a first-time hood given she can take a keen hold.

With her trainer Jane Williams amongst the winners of late, there are plenty of reasons to believe she's overpriced at the current odds and each-way value.

UPDATE: Noel Meade's Jesse Evans, a solid fourth at Galway when last seen over hurdles, has been the horse for money, while West Cork is a big drifter. The selection is relatively strong in the market and is clearly fancied, so hopes are high she can run a big race.

3.10 Fontwell - Game Line

Peter Bowen's Game Line looks to have the right credentials for the Southern National Handicap Chase, run over a gruelling 3m3f.

The seven-year-old has yet to finish out of the first three since joining his current yard, winning three times over staying trips of 3m2f or more, and he's open to more improvement considering his age.

After winning the Norfolk National at Fakenham in May without breaking too much sweat, he then bumped into a very well handicapped sort in Dressedforsuccess, who was in receipt of 22lb, and that horse franked the form when winning twice more to complete a five-timer.

The selection hasn't raced since, meaning he's got a 140 day absence to overcome, but this 3m3f contest around Fontwell's tight figure-of-eight track looks tailor-made for him and it has likely been his target for a while.

With a nice racing weight of just 10st 8lb on his back and James Bowen (323131 on him) doing the pushing, he should carry our money a long way at a nice price.

The bang-in-form Gary Moore provides the likely favourite in Gleno and he's going to strip fitter for his comeback run at Exeter last month, albeit he was beaten the best part of 50 lengths.

He's respected nonetheless along with David Bridgwater's Salty Boy, whose third over 4m in the Eider back in February looks a solid piece of form and has also had a recent pipeopener over an inadequate trip.

3.30 Cheltenham - Pikar

A disappointing turnout of four but they're all good.

I Like To Move It has won both his hurdles starts, including one over course and distance, despite jumping a few inadequately, and he's only going to get better with experience. He deserves to be favourite.

Dual bumper winner Washington did plenty wrong on his hurdles debut - sweated beforehand, far too keen in the race - but he jumped well in the main to win convincingly and clearly has a big engine.

French import Sonigino (NON-RUNNER) is making his British debut for Paul Nicholls, having won twice on very soft ground on the other side of the Channel, and this Sir Alex Ferguson part-owned four-year-old could be anything. It'll be interesting to see which way he goes in the betting.

Dan Skelton's Pikar is the outsider of the lot at the time of writing but there wasn't much wrong with his debut second behind Knappers Hill (a winner again since) Chepstow last month, despite losing a shoe.

UPDATE: With Sonigino being declared a non-runner, I Like To Move It is now odds-on across the board. The selection, who is the outsider of the three remaining, is easy to back. Best keep stakes very small.

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Out of a mare who has produced seven Flat winners, he might have the superior toe if this turns into a tactical affair, and that earns him a tentative vote.

3.43 Fontwell - Natural History

Gary Moore continues to churn out winners - 12-41, 29% in the last fortnight - and Fontwell has proved a happy hunting ground for the West Sussex-handler, whose 256 winners here over the past five seasons have come at a very respectable strike rate of 18%.

That makes his Natural History of obvious interest in this 2m1f handicap hurdle, and the six-year-old has plenty more to recommend him, not least his reduced handicap mark of 125.

He was running off a 7lb higher mark when sent off 2/1 favourite for the ultra competitive Imperial Cup at Sandown on the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, but failed to give his true running (testing ground to blame, perhaps?) and having looked beaten two out he trailed home in sixth.

He had been in good form prior to that, with a narrow defeat by the well regarded Gericault Roque on his Rules debut and an easy success in a Plumpton handicap more what was expected of the Group 3-placed performer on the Flat, who cost his current connections 105,000gns.

He's been freshened up since an odds-on defeat at Newton Abbot in April - would have won granted a stronger pace and a better jump at the last - and it wouldn't surprise to see him make all this afternoon in customary fashion.

Ben Pauling's Quinta Do Mar, who has been hiked 9lb for a comprehensive success at Carlisle last month but is open to further improvement, is feared most.

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