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Overturn the has pace to smoke Simonsig.

Byline: BOB DOWNING

WITH all the hype of the last couple of weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that two races at next week's Cheltenham Festival will be walkovers.

Sprinter Sacre is unbackable in the Queen Mother Champion Chase while his Nicky Henderson stable companion Simonsig apparently already has the Arkle Trophy outside his stable door.

While I can go along with Sprinter Sacre, the best National Hunt horse I have seen recently, those who overlook the achievements of Overturn could well get their fingers burned in the Arkle on Tuesday.

Dilemma Already billed as one of the races of the Festival, this has the makings of one of the best finishes of the week and I take Overturn to justify trainer Donald McCain's undying faith in his Chester Cup and Northumberland Plate winner, who also finished second in a Champion Hurdle.

On paper, it looks a two-horse race and the fact that only 12 stood their ground at the six-day stage would underline that.

Overturn has only one way of running - from the front. He will be there to be shot at - but first you have to get him in your sights and that's not easy. Barry Geraghty will have a dilemma on Simonsig - whether to track Overturn and hope that his horse will see out the strong gallop or take him on from the outset and see if they can force a mistake out of Tim Leslie's horse.

Both options are easier said than done.

Overturn's preparations have gone entirely to plan. The front-running nine-year-old has made a seamless and enthusiastic transition to fences, earning rave reviews for all three of his easy victories so far.

McCain wears his heart on his sleeve as far as the little bay is concerned, admitting: "He makes me smile every morning. All I want is a nice bit of ground for the Festival. We go there with the feeling that his way of racing will make it difficult for Simonsig.

"Overturn has his gallop and he will go out and do that. But if someone else wants to go out in front, he will happily settle in second."

It is clear that McCain does not fear the Henderson horse and is looking forward to the challenge. He has already chalked up six Festival winners and I am confident that, come Tuesday, another one will be added to the list.

Regular readers will know the high regard I have for Peddler's Cross and, with Big Buck's out of the way, McCain is right to go for the World Hurdle.

Ever since his demise the season before last, when he was trounced by Sprinter Sacre, Peddlers has had his fair share of niggles and although I was not convinced by his last performance, jockey Jason Maguire was full of enthusiasm.

He looks to have place claims at the very least, especially now Grands Crus has been ruled out of the Festival.

Don't miss Ballnagour wherever he goes next week. He had been off the track for more than 200 days when he made his debut for David Pipe at Warwick and could not have been more impressive - so much so that the handicapper raised him a massive 21b.

He has six entries at the Festival and the Pipe team have been playing their cards very close to their chest.

I have to say that the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup leave me a little cold. They look sub-standard compared to previous years but that was bound to be the case with the Gold Cup without the likes of Kauto Star, Denman et al.

Talents I fancy an each-way wager on Binocular for the Champion Hurdle as I believe he will get closer if not close enough to Hurricane Fly and I would not rule out Long Run making a bold show in the Gold Cup.

Geraghty, Ruby Walsh and Tony Mc-Coy will be at the forefront of the betting to be top jockey but watch out for Wayne Hutchinson. He is second jockey to Robert Thornton at Alan King's yard but the stable has been beset with injuries, most recently the fall last week which prematurely ended Thornton''s season. That means Hutchinson will get the chance to show his considerable talents.

BOB'S SUPER SIX MY six to watch for the Festival are: Overturn, Peddlers Cross, Binocular, Ballnagour, Long Run and Godsmejudge.

CAPTION(S):

FRONT RUNNER: Overturn has every chance in the Arkle Trophy.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 10, 2013
Words:742
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