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Horse Racing Tips: Keith Melrose's Sunday Cheltenham tips

Sunday rounds off Cheltenham's three-day November meeting and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post provides his best bets on the card.

1.45 Cheltenham

Nube Negra @ 5/4

1pt win

2.20 Cheltenham

Fantastikas @ 4/1

1pt win

2.55 Cheltenham

Dads Lad @ 5/1

1pt each-way (five places)

Defending champion a Shloer thing

The Shloer Chase (1.45) is a clash between Arkle winner Edwardstone and last year's winner of this race, Nube Negra. The early market has Edwardstone as favourite in receipt of 3lb and, in a lot of circumstances, I would agree with that assessment.

However, these conditions are almost exactly what Nube Negra needs to show his best and his best is very close to championship standard.

He has beaten Altior and Politologue on his seasonal reappearance in the last couple of campaigns and he is particularly potent on ground which is faster than typical winter conditions. Both criteria are satisfied here.

On Racing Post Ratings, it is a virtual toss-up between Nube Negra and Edwardstone, the latter of which was a convincing winner of an average Arkle.

That he is the marginally more solid is no reason to think that his chances are 60:40 against a horse who might well have won the 2021 Champion Chase with a bit more luck, returned to the conditions under which he looked a champion in the making 12 months ago.

Fantastik day in store for Twiston-Davies

A pair of second-season chasers who both went off prominent in the betting for March's Ultima, over slightly shorter on Cheltenham's Old course, dominate the betting for the Jewson Handicap Chase (2.20).

Does He Know is a three-time course winner and took a Grade 2 as a novice, but he has to give 10lb to Fantastikas and is not thought to have the same scope to improve as the latter.

Fantastikas was built up a little more gradually last season, with spring handicaps seemingly the aim.

He was a respectable seventh in the Ultima, 12 places and 50 lengths ahead of Does He Know, before flopping in the Scottish Grand National a few weeks later.

Trips beyond 3m ought to suit Fantastikas, probably more than Does He Know, as that horse has a notable engine, and in a handicap that typically lacks depth he rates as a solid option against his more reputable rival.

The only other obviously progressive type, Slipway, is to run in the Southern National at Fontwell instead on Sunday.

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More Cheltenham joy for Mullins

This looks a fairly weak running of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.55). I Like To Move It is the lowest-rated topweight (142 BHA) in over a decade, and by some way.

The Willie Mullins-trained Dads Lad has been progressing all summer and can top off his campaign by landing one of Britain's premier handicap hurdles.

Dads Lad won at the most recent Cheltenham fixture, when taking a 2m handicap chase. He was rated 135 that day but his hurdles mark is 7lb lower, so he is evidently well handicapped.

It is not as though he is one of those horses who needs fences in the way to show his best, either, as a few starts earlier he showed enough speed to win a maiden on the Flat at Galway which has worked out favourably.

Given his record in other top handicap hurdles - he has won the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival six times since 2010 - it is surprising that Mullins has never won the Greatwood.

This looks one of his better chances to set that right.

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