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Pertemps Final Tips - Smoking Aces Can Play a Hand in Finish of Pertemps

The Pertemps Final (2.05) concludes the series of nine qualifiers run throughout the season and is traditionally one of the trickiest handicaps to solve, although the betting suggests that Paul Nicholls' Alfie Sherrin is standout.

The Favourite
Alfie Sherrin is a banker for this race. Well, that's the view of Timeform's British ratings maestro Matt Taylor, who was speaking at a recent Cheltenham preview night: "I'd back him with top weight (carries 11st 1lb here). In fact, I reckon he'd be placed in the World Hurdle if he were to run in it." That's a strong recommendation indeed and bookmakers seem to agree to as they make him a short-priced favourite with no bigger than 4/1 (Stan James) on offer. Certainly, the race he won at Newbury last time was just about the best three-mile handicap run all season and, despite a 12lb rise, there's a good chance this unexposed seven-year-old is still a few steps ahead of the handicapper.

The Dangers
However, there is a strong challenge from Ireland including from last year's Coral Cup winning stable in Smoking Aces (14/1 Stan James), who made hard work of winning over 2m4f last time and should be suited by the step up to 3m. Dermot Weld's Prince Erik (12/1 Ladbrokes) won a qualifier for this race last time but has gone up in the weights as a result and may have shown his hand to the handicapper too early. On the other hand, Rocco's Hall has been running well at this trip in Ireland without winning and could be nicely treated.

The home challenge is headed by Nicky Henderson's lightly-raced six-year-old Ainama (8/1 Victor Chandler), who could be well-handicapped on 10st 10lb and will have the assistance of Tony McCoy in the saddle. Fredo (16/1 Ladbrokes) won a qualifier in fine style, while Palypso De Creek (25/1 bet365), rerouted from the Kim Muir, is worth a second look as his trainer reckons he's just as good over hurdles. It's quite possible I haven't mentioned the winner in what is a wide-open race.

Longshot
Cross Kennon (25/1 Ladbrokes) has been a revelation since tackling this sort of trip and his trainer Jennie Candlish has shrewdly limited his runs to two this season (both easy winning ones) to protect his rating. Off 10st 3lb, he could surprise some of the bigger stables' plans.

Key Stat
Ten of the last 16 winners had won last time out, with only four finishing out of the first three.

Verdict
It's difficult to ignore the obvious claims of Alfie Sherrin but he's no "banker" and is now very short in the betting. Take a chance instead on cheekpieces (applied for the first time here) having the desired effect on SMOKING ACES. The son of Our Vic ran in snatches over 2m4f last time giving the impression he would benefit from some headgear and his trainer Tom Taafe has a fine record in festival handicaps with his record since 2003 standing at 45330U65116. Furthermore, he's a tasty 14/1 with Stan James, although an each-way bet is advised as the favourite in what is a tricky race.


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Pertemps Final Tips - Smoking Aces Can Play a Hand in Finish of Pertemps

The Pertemps Final (2.05) concludes the series of nine qualifiers run throughout the season and is traditionally one of the trickiest handicaps to solve, although the betting suggests that Paul Nicholls' Alfie Sherrin is standout.

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