Mud-loving Big River the ace in the pack in Smartcards

Big River has some strong form to his name and is now back below his last winning mark, so is a strong fancy to make a winning reappearance in the Grade 3 BetVictor Smartcards Handicap Chase at Cheltenham today (1.50).

This Lucinda Russel trained nine-year-old has won gtwio his his eight starts over fences, with the last of those successes came on heavy ground at Kelso back in February 2018 where he came from off the pace and stayed on strongly to beat Shantou Flyer by 4 1/2 lengths off a rating of 140.

Big River backed that up with a solid second at Uttoxeter off 143 and ran a cracker at the Cheltenham Festival here back in March when fourth of 24 to Beware The Bear in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase off 140.

Despite making a bad mistake at the first, and then being far fron fluent at several obstacles, he responded well for pressure to be gaimng all the way to the line after the last and be beaten just 6 1/2 lengths.

It was a fine effort after so many costly errors and Big River went on to round off the campaign with similar style performance when a 17 1/4 length fifth of 23 to Takingrisks in the Grade 3 Scottish Grand National at Ayr off the same rating.

This looks less taxing than both those contests and Big FRiver is able to race in it off 1lb lower (139).

It makes him a key player at the weights and he has also undergone wind surgery since last being seen in action.

Big River also has a strike rate of 30 per cent on soft ground or worse, and this 3m 3f slog will be right up his street.

Daily Sport recommended bet: 3pts win Big River (4/1 generally available – use BOG firms)

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