Big Bucks prospects of another Cheltenham Festival win will be on the line in the Grade One Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day

Trainer Paul Nicholls hurdling superstar will be back on course in the three mile Cleeve Hurdle where connections will hope that he proves any doubters wrong about his Festival chances. In his way will be the mud-loving Reve De Sivola and the once very promising Boston Bob and At Fishers Cross. Many punters idea of his main challenger for the World Hurdle  Annie Power swerves the race and opts to take on easier company at Doncaster in the mares hurdle (2.05). With prices of around Evens for the victory punters may place Big Bucks on the namesake. Crockford believes that it may be worth giving Rebecca Curtis’s At Fishers Cross another try. If his jumping comes together and he has more luck than in his last two starts he should be value for at least a place.

In a fascinating but weak looking Argento Chase, last year’s novice Rocky Creek should follow up on his second in the Hennessy. Irish raider Rathvinden looked to be cruising when falling at Warwick and is certainly worthy of a gamble in the (3.00). The very expensive Goodwood Mirage may prove his worth and Festival claims in the first against some useful sorts.

In what are both excellent cards at Doncaster and Leopardstown, the stand out bet must be Quick Jack for Tony Martin in the hurdle. Martin looks to have this planned to every last detail including the booking of the shrewd and patient Paul Carberry.

The feature SkyBet Chase at Doncaster (3.15) looks competitive with Unioniste hoping to bounce back to form for connections.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Quick Jack (Leopardstown 3.25)

Tony Martin’s Newmarket and Cheltenham winner looks thrown in at the weights for the valuable Hurdle. With the brilliant Carberry booked to steer this progressive sort home expect another Martin big race coup.

Crockford’s Whisper –  Time For Rupert e/w (Doncaster 3.15)

The whisper is that it might just be Time For Rupert again. Once fancied for the Gold Cup and other big prizes, the last two seasons have not gone right for Webber’s highly regarded chaser. This ten-year-old has the class on his day to win this feature chase in a canter.

Archer’s Selection – Big Bucks (Cheltenham 3.35)

There would have been absolutely no concerns in Archer’s mind about taking the ride on Big Bucks. The Tin man would have known that on his day Big Bucks cannot be beaten.

Crockford’s Gambles on Festival Trials Day:

Cheltenham – Goodwood Mirage (12.40), Dark Lover e/w (1.15), Double Ross (1.50), Rocky Creek (2.25), Rathvinden (3.00), Big Bucks and At Fishers Cross e/w (3.35) and La Fontana e/w (4.10)

Doncaster – Rock On Ruby (12.55), Shooters Wood e/w (1.30), Annie Power (2.05), Warden Hill e/w (2.40), Time For Rupert e/w (3.15) and Elegant Stride (3.50)

Lingfield – Skinny Love e/w (12.15), Putin e/w (12.50) and Rebellious Guest (2.30)

Leopardstown – Champagne James (1.40), Minsk e/w (2.50) and Quick Jack (3.25)


(Featured Photograph – Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)

Cheltenham Festival