Cheltenham Festival 2012 

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Things Look Grand for Astracad

The 'getting out stakes' at the Cheltenham Festival this year is now the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, and in theory should be easier to unravel than its predecessor as the last race at the Festival, the County Hurdle.

Astracad (nearside)
© Racehorse Photos

In theory yes, but in truth, with so many set to line up on the back of decent efforts, it will still be a brave man that goes nap in the finale. A couple of things to point out first: Nicky Henderson obviously likes to target a horse at the race named in honour of his father since 2006, and it was therefore apt that he should send out Greenhope to oblige that very year.

Secondly, most of the winners in the past decade have been in the first four in the betting. With that in mind, any more support for Kid Cassidy should be seriously noted, given that he is owned by J P McManus who likes nothing better than a tilt at the ring. Kid Cassidy has only had nine career outings, but has already won five times. Even those following the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012 betting will have been impressed.

He does though appear to be a highly-strung individual who was fitted with both a net muzzle and ear plugs when scoring under Tony McCoy at Doncaster. How he will cope at Cheltenham is anybody's guess.

Nigel Twiston-Davies collected with Pigeon Island in 2010 and has a live chance this time with Astracad who has already turned out seven times at Cheltenham during his career, including when down the field in last year's Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. Anyone searching for Cheltenham betting tips need to bear this in mind.

Since going chasing however, he has won two of his four starts, the latest of which saw him battle his way to victory over Rileyev in a Class 2 affair in December. If it should turn into another war of attrition, he will not be found wanting. Astracad goes well fresh, as he showed when winning on his chase debut at Perth, so lack of a recent outing would not be a concern, and he looks all set to run a big race.

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