Cheltenham betting tips: Aaron Lad, Midnight Target and My Hometown in with chances on Friday

Betting Tips · -

The Cheltenham betting tips for December 14 given by experts rate Aaron Lad the NAP of the seven-race course on day one of The International meeting. While that one is fancied in the stayers’ handicap hurdle over 3m, My Hometown is another one to consider for the Cross Country Handicap Chase now stepped up in trip to 3m 6f. Course and distance winner Midnight Target, meanwhile, looks each-way value in the extended 2m 4f mares’ handicap chase. Read all about these horses and their claims in our detailed Cheltenham betting tips for December 14.Aaron Lad the Citipost Handicap Hurdle punt at CheltenhamDr Richard Newland is always one for landing a touch in Cheltenham handicaps, so his Aaron Lad looks well worth a wager in the class 2 Citipost Handicap Hurdle over almost 3m there on Friday (15:40). The six-year-old shaped better than the bare result suggests when an eight-length sixth at the Cotswolds venue on reappearance in October and he’s won since.

Like many from the yard, Aaron Lad is an Irish import who has taken time to get right but he’s now got three victories from his last five starts. After failing to complete on his first two outings for Newland, he was far from disgraced when a 22-length third to Black Op at Doncaster back in January.

The winner went on to land a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree having also finished runner-up to Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival here. That is strong form in this lower class 2 affair and Aaron Lad improved for it when second at Sedgefield and then on handicap debut at Catterick.

Improving sort

After finally breaking the maiden tag off his opening mark of 114 back at Sedgefield, he was stepped up in class and trip when a holding on well three-quarters of a length winner at Market Rasen. Aaron Lad was then pulled up at Haydock, but shaped with promise on his return to action over course and distance in October.

While he may not have been going the pace to get involved, he wasn’t beaten far and this by comparison is an easier race for the grade. Aaron Lad was then always handy and soon challenging after two out at Market Rasen, before taking it up and the furlong pole and winning with more in hand than the winning margin suggests.

The handicapper clearly thinks so as he’s put him up 9lb for a 1 1/2 lengths victory over Jersey Ben. As Aaron Lad is still unexposed as a stayer after four starts over 2m 7f or further, and has won two of those, he could still have plenty more improvement left in him and that hike may not stop him going in again.

Charlie Hammond again takes the ride and is valuable for his 5lb claim. Taking all that into account, Aaron Lad has considerable claims on good ground he has proved capable of handling and thus rates the NAP of our Cheltenham betting tips for December 14.My Hometown unexposed for Cross Country challengeCross Country specialist Enda Bolger is double-handed in the latest 3m 6f handicap at Cheltenham (15:05) but, while Josies Orders and Fact Of The Matter are set for an intriguing rematch from November, it’s the other JP McManus runner who is most interesting. That is My Hometown, who absolutely bolted up in the Risk Of Thunder Chase as Punchestown last time out and on that evidence could be a horse to follow in this unique sphere.

This eight-year-old is one that connections have brought patiently along in the Cross Country discipline. My Hometown is by Presenting and likes to go from the front and was sixth in this race 12 months ago when trying to run a whopping 11lb out of the handicap.

With Grand National hero Tiger Roll not taking up his engagement this time around, however, My Hometown isn’t out the weights here, has demonstrated improvement since and gets a sound surface to race on. The latter looks the key whereas other Cross Country types like some cut in the ground.

As he stayed on strongly from two out to land the Risk Of Thunder by 16 lengths, My Hometown should relish the step back up in trip from 3m and the assessor’s huge rating increase for him looks more than fair. Jockey Niall Madden has also ridden a winner this week, so it may be well worth taking a chance on his mount here.

With Josies Orders plenty short enough to try and confirm the form of last month’s Cross Country handicap with Fact Of The Matter, it’s My Hometown who instead appeals to take another step forward. He is also among our Cheltenham betting tips for December 14 as a result.Midnight Target each-way value in mares’ raceMidnight Target has won two of her last four starts, including over course and distance back in April, so is one to consider each-way in the extended 2m 4f mares’ handicap chase earlier on the card (13:55). The eight-year-old daughter of Midnight Legend is trained by in-form Shropshire handler John Groucott and has placed on four other occasions over fences.

She also has some smart form in the book, having chased home subsequent Grade 2 winner Modus on her chase debut at Bangor last October. Although then coming two grief two out next time up at Ludlow, Midnight Target chased home a couple of useful sorts at that venue in the 135 rated Hogan’s Height and Happy Diva.

The latter has placed three times at Listed level, so the form looks strong in the context of this lower class 3 contest. Midnight Target may have gone down nine lengths to Happy Diva in the end, but pulled 12 lengths clear of the remainder.

Course and distance winner

A step up in trip saw her break the maiden tag over fences at Huntingdon next, but her stamina seemed stretched at 3m. There’s no doubt that Midnight Target was a very game winner, but she jumped soundly and connections then dropped her back in distance for a Listed contest here in April after finishing fourth at Bangor in between.

That brought a career best out of her, despite a tendency to give away ground by jumping out to her right. Midnight Target made all holding on in resolute fashion to deny the re-opposing The Bay Birch by a length. As they meet again off 2lb better terms, there is no reason why she should not confirm the form.

Although beaten 22 lengths on reappearance by Marienstar at Kempton, Midnight Target pulled a further 11 lengths clear of the third home. The winner, who made all, has since gone in again at Warwick beating Black Tulip by five lengths. While that means Henry Daly’s runner also has claims in this, Midnight Target is taken as the each-way punt in our Cheltenham betting tips for December 14 on her course form.Your Next Bet

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