Cheltenham Festival top racing tip: Nassalam primed for Ultima success

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More of the favourite later, but under the circumstances, a better value bet is Gary Moore's six-year-old, Nassalam, who looks certain to improve again for this step up in trip. Nassalam already has plenty of good experience over these fences, having finished sixth of 14 in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup last November and a never-nearer third of 16 in the Grade 3 Paddy Power New Year's Day Handicap when he was last seen. Those have been his two latest outings and, given that he has a very good record when fresh (211153), it is a plus that he has been put away for 72 days in preparation for this. Both his runs over these fences have seen him doing all his best work up the finishing hill and it is significant that he was originally entered for a Grade 3 handicap over 26 furlongs here in December, only to miss the race due to travel problems.

Now he has his chance over the sort of trip that should bring out the best in him under Jamie Moore, and he also has his ideal ground conditions (career figures on soft or heavy ground are 121221213).

Off his last winning mark, and off a mark that is only two pounds higher than for his big run here on New Year's Day, this improving six-year-old looks set for a big performance under these conditions for his in-form yard (three winners at Sandown on Saturday).

Next best bet: Corach Rambler

Elsewhere, Corach Rambler looks to be the right favourite given that he was going away at the line when he won this race last season. The fact that the ground will be slower than last year should help this strong-staying dual course winner, who is to be partnered once again by Derek Fox, who has been his only rider under Rules. The only nagging doubt is his 108-day absence because he has only ever won fresh on one previous occasion (from five) and that was over hurdles more than two years ago, while his three chasing wins all came within four to six weeks of a previous outing.

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