Cheltenham Festival top racing tip: Thyme Hill kept fresh for Brown Advisory Chase bid

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The short-priced early favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase is the unbeaten Gerri Colombe, but it's worth noting that six of his seven career wins having been achieved on right-handed tracks, including all three of his wins over fences.

Moreover, he has no experience of the Cheltenham Festival, has never gone this far before and his top three wins have all come over a much shorter trip, suggesting a vulnerability that creates potential value elsewhere.

Thyme Hill has a fine record at the Festival, having finished third of 19 in the 2019 Champion Bumper, while his close-up fourth of 19 in the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and his second of 10 in last year's Stayers' Hurdle were both over three miles on soft ground.

He can be perhaps be forgiven for coming second on unsuitably good ground to McFabulous in a Grade 2 at Newbury last November, but Thyme Hill wasted no time in reversing that form comprehensively when the pair met again on softer ground in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton.

This time, Thyme Hill stormed clear to win by 15 lengths, jumping far better in the process than he had on good ground previously and benefiting from the cheekpieces that are retained here.

Thyme Hill has a great record when fresh, winning five times when returning from a break, so the fact that he has been rested since Kempton is a plus. As well as being comfortably the top-rated of these over hurdles, Thyme Hill is also the top-rated over fences and he looks the one to be on under these conditions.

Next best bet: Sir Gerhard

Of the rest, Sir Gerhard is obviously a very classy performer who is very much in the right hands to progress much further in this sphere, having won on each of his two Festival visits, taking the Champion Bumper two years ago and the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle last year. So far, he has raced only once over fences, and that win at Gowran Park against only two rivals tells us very little and he didn't jump particularly well in the first part of the race, making a bad mistake, a repeat of which would cost him very dearly in a top-class race like this over these big fences.

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