Cheltenham International Meeting day one predictions: Nassalam can star in Dahlbury Handicap Chase
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Enda McElhinney
There are seven races at Cheltenham on Friday
There are seven races at Cheltenham on Friday

- Friday is the first day of Cheltenham's International Meeting
- Recommended bets
- Foxy Jacks to win 12:05pm
- Timeforatune to win 12:40pm
- Mister Coffey to win 1.15pm
- Marta Des Mottes to win 1.50pm
- Nassalam to win 2.25pm
- Mullenbeg to win 3pm
- Flight Deck to win 3.25pm

Cheltenham's two-day International Meeting is the flagship racing taking place in Britain this weekend, with action scheduled in the Cotswolds on Friday and Saturday.

The opening afternoon features seven races from 12.05pm to 3.35pm and our expert takes a race-by-race look ahead to the card.

12.05pm - Glenfarclas Crystal Cup Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m6f)

Delta Work returns to the scene of his Festival win here in March, where he slayed the dreams of stablemate Tiger Roll on his farewell outing. 

Unlike the Festival equivalent, this is a handicap and so Gordon Elliott's charge will concede upwards of a stone to his 10 rivals. 

He still might be good enough but FOXY JACKS was third behind him in the 3m1f Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown and was doing his best work at the end.

This longer trip may suit and he is better off at these weights for trainer Mouse Morris.

Racing Post selection: Foxy Jacks

12.40pm - British EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (2m1f)

Master Chewy looked set to open his account at Ascot recently only to crash out at the final flight. Assuming Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge is none the worse for that experience, he has a good chance of compensation. 

Exeter novice winner TIMEFORATUNE narrowly failed at odds-on a fortnight ago at Taunton, coming clear with a useful newcomer, and could have more to offer for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden here.

Racing Post selection: Timeforatune

1.15pm - Cheltenham & South-West Racing Club Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (3m1f)

MISTER COFFEY was runner-up in the Kim Muir at the Festival here in March and should make a bold bid to go one better on seasonal comeback for the in-form Nicky Henderson yard. 

Green Vault is already 2-2 over fences and progressing, he looks the main danger.

Racing Post selection: Mister Coffey

1.50pm - CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares' Handicap Chase (2m4½f)

MARTA DES MOTTES has made a fine impression in two runs over fences this season, coming out an emphatic winner on debut at Southwell (2m, good) last month and then finishing second behind a useful looking newcomer at Chepstow a week later. 

The mare should continue to go well and is worth another shot at this trip.

Racing Post selection: Marta Des Mottes 

2.25pm - Dahlbury Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap, 3m2f)

Commodore won this 12 months ago and returns for sound hopes again for a Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch team in great form. 

NASSALAM did not disgrace himself in a competitive handicap chase over 2m4f here last month and it is interesting that trainer Gary Moore now gives him a crack at this staying trip for the first time. 

Gary Moore will hope Nassalam can impress at Cheltenham on Friday
Gary Moore will hope Nassalam can impress at Cheltenham on Friday

He is a sound jumper and if he stays going is a real threat.

Racing Post selection: Nassalam

3pm - Catesby Estates Handicap Hurdle (2m1f)

The Milton Harris-trained MULLENBEG is thriving, the daughter of Walk In The Park making it three wins on the spin over hurdles when she scored by some seven-lengths at Ludlow (2m, good to soft) nine days ago. 

She carries a 7lb penalty for that win but was in total control of that contest and looks the one to beat again in her current mood. She won a Listed bumper here last season and so will have no worries handling the track.

Racing Post selection: Mullenbeg

3.35pm - Citipost Handicap Hurdle (3m)

Dusart won 3-4 last season over fences for Nicky Henderson, his only setback coming in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory at The Festival here in March. 

He has had a wind op in his downtime and is respected, but he has to prove he is as effective back over hurdles from this inflated mark. 

FLIGHT DECK only found one too strong at Carlisle 12 days ago over a similar trip and Jonjo O'Neill's charge could be capable of building on that from an unchanged mark.

Racing Post selection: Flight Deck


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