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Keith Melrose
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Keith Melrose's Cheltenham Saturday betting tips

Cheltenham's December Gold Cup meeting is the primary fixture on Saturday and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post shares his best bets on the card.

The Widdow Maker @ 7/1

1.15 Cheltenham

1pt each-way

Coconut Splash @ 12/1

1.50 Cheltenham

1pt each-way

Epatante @ 5/4

2.25 Cheltenham

1pt win

Tizzard and Powell to make hay

There are plenty of free-goers in the 2m handicap chase at Cheltenham, and only a couple (Editeur Du Gite, and Prince Escalus whose first preference race is at Hereford) to take them along. 

It could set up well for a horse with 2m pace who can stay further, which is a category into which The Widdow Maker falls. 

He ran a fair race over 2m here on his reappearance, when he just tied up as if the run was needed. Next time, he ran into Paint The Dream over 2m4f at Newbury where that rival is a borderline Grade 1 horse. 

He has been dropped 5lb in total for those two runs, which is pretty remarkable considering he was third in a Grade 1 novice at Aintree in April. So long as eight runners remain in the race, three places each-way is the way to play The Widdow Maker.

Williams to make a Splash

Midwinter is a good time of year for Evan Williams. In recent years he has won big races around Christmas such as the Christmas Hurdle, Welsh National, Ascot's Silver Cup and the December Gold Cup with Coole Cody. 

His runner this year, Coconut Splash, has long threatened a big performance and this could be a good opportunity for him to finally show it. 

Coconut Splash has novice form that puts him in the same ballpark as Messire Des Obeaux (won Grade 2 next time) and Chantry House. 

Although he has not gone on since, he has not done a lot wrong either including running into the above-mentioned The Widdow Maker a few weeks before that one placed in a Grade 1. 

Coconut Splash went off favourite for a Premier Handicap on his last run, but it was his reappearance and he got tired late on. 

Still, he was only beaten four lengths and if able to come on for that he should be able to make the places at least.

Former Champion to shine

With any luck, time will show that finishing second to Constitution Hill will be an honour in itself. 

Epatante did that last time, in what some have termed a lacklustre return in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. 

I am of the view it was a perfectly respectable run, particularly given it was her first run of the season, and that she is being turned out again so quickly says to me that they did not have her fully tuned up for Newcastle. 

Epatante has plenty of Cheltenham form, of course. She has won the Champion Hurdle and was second to Honeysuckle in the same race in March. 

Although this race is on the New course, the similarities massively outnumber the differences and she should be a little nearer even-money than current odds have her.

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