Edwardstone could be the surprise-packet in Supreme

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Julius Caesar always reminded us to “beware the ides of March”, and those words have always haunted me when I put on my betting boots every year at the Cheltenham Festival.

It helps if you are able to get off to a cracking start in the meeting’s opener, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but Shishkin supporters ought to recall that only two favourites have won the traditional curtain-raiser in the last decade, and bookies are still dining out on stories of how the likes of market-leaders Dunguib, Cue Card and My Tent or Yours all bit the dust up that famous Prestbury Park hill.

So, while our very own Edwardstone, who, together with a handful of other Cheltenham possibles enjoyed a day out at Lambourn last week, has been freely available at 20-1 and 25-1 since he was beaten at Haydock last time, Alan has loved this horse from day one.

And, despite the horse’s recent defeat at Haydock, Alan has certainly not lost faith, while conceding that Edwardstone is such an imposing individual that whatever he achieves over hurdles he will be an even more exciting novice chaser.

Alan said:”It looked as if Edwardstone was going to win that Grade 2, but he got run out of it close home. You can be sure that they will go flat to the boards from the start this time, and we have always felt that the faster the pace the better he will settle.

“Edwardstone had previously beaten subsequent Grade 1 Tolworth winner Fiddleronthehoof at Wincanton (bizarrely the runner-up is now less than half the odds of our fellow) before defying a penalty at Aintree. His form is rock-solid and I still maintain that there is more to come from him.”

However, the bookies reckon we have a better chance with Who Dares Wins in the Ultima Handicap Chase, a race we have already won twice, with Fork Lightning and Bensalem.

Alan said:”Who Dares Wins has been a superstar for us under both codes, winning a Northumberland Plate and being placed in the Coral Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting and two Chester Cups.

“He is only a novice over fences, but then so was Fork Lightning, while Bensalem was also still a novice and only in second gear when he tipped up two out the year before he won.

“Who Dares Wins made it third time lucky over fences in the Pendil at Kempton last month, but I have always thought that stepping up to three miles would suit him.

“I loved the way he battled back between the last two fences, having been lucky not to be brought down when Master Tommytucker fell, and, while I’m not sure the cheekpieces made any difference, we’ll certainly keep them on now.”

Alan feels that Deyrann de Carjac is not good enough to take on the big boys in the RSA Chase, but he is adamant that even with his big weight he has a solid each-way chance in the novices’ handicap chase – the proviso being that the ground continues to dry up.

He said:”Deyrann de Carjac battled on well to finish third in the Dipper at Cheltenham’s New Year meeting on ground that he would not have enjoyed. He was dropped a pound to 145 so just squeezes into this race, and he has been freshened up since with this in mind. Good to be soft would be ok, but good ground would be even better.”