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Horse Racing Tips: Graeme Rodway's Cheltenham tips

Jumps fans will be in their element when Cheltenham returns for its first meeting of the season on Friday. Here Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway runs you through his best bets.

1.35 Cheltenham

Elham Valley @ SP

1pt each-way

3.20 Cheltenham

Hang In There @ SP

Hang In There @ SP

3.55 Cheltenham

Coole Cody @ SP

1pt each-way

4.30 Cheltenham

Bermeo @ SP

1pt each-way

Elham Valley can get us off to a flyer

The Showcasing Sustainability Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (1.35) kicks off the season at Cheltenham and Elham Valley can get us off to a flyer by winning the opener.

The five-year-old recorded his career-best effort when third in the Fred Winter over course and distance at last year's Cheltenham Festival and the return to this track will definitely suit.

Elham Valley is now 5lb lower than for that effort and has slowly been returning to form. He won a 2m1f handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot in August and improved on that to finish second at Southwell last month, recording his best Racing Post Rating since the Fred Winter.

Another step forward looks on the cards from Elham Valley and he won't have to find much more to be competitive. If he can repeat the form he showed in the Fred Winter, he could win.

Stick with progressive Hang In There

The Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (3.20) is a cracking little contest and the rapidly improving Hang In There looks capable of making it five wins on the spin over fences.

Hang In There has won his last three races by a combined total of 103-lengths and the most impressive part of his wins has been his jumping. He bounces out in front and is so fluent over his fences that the majority of his rivals aren't able to keep pace with his early gallop.

A mark of 143 puts him on top weight on his handicap chase debut, but he had a peak RPR of 152 over hurdles and looks likely to make at least as good a chaser. He has won on soft ground, so rain shouldn't be a problem, and there should be plenty more to come from him. 

Course specialist Coole Cody can strike again

Coole Cody was second to subsequent International Hurdle winner Guard Your Dreams in the Abu Dhabi Digital Exchange Handicap Hurdle (3.55) last season and can go one better here.

The selection went on to land the Racing Post Gold Cup in November and the Plate at The Festival over fences last season and, if this were a chase, he would be carrying 10lb more than he does.

He is equally adept over hurdles and goes well fresh, so it seems fair to assume that his trainer Evan Williams will have had this race in mind for his return for quite some time.

Coole Cody is well suited by good or soft ground, so the forecast rain is no concern, and if he turns up in the form he showed when second in the race last year he should run well again.

Bank on Bermeo

The Andrew Malam Lifetime In Racing Award Winner Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase (4.30) looks like a good opportunity for Bermeo to repeat his win in the race two years ago.

That victory came when he was trained by Johnny Farrelly, but he bounced back to form after being switched to this stable when scoring at Newbury in April on his debut for Harry Fry. That was his first run for 113 days and that proves he can show his best after a long layoff.

He returns from a 186-day absence on this occasion, with leading amateur rider Aine O'Connor booked to partner him, and looks sure to give a good account back at this track.

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