Vaniteux – 14-1 Betfair Sportsbook. Cheltenham 5.30pm Friday 16th March
After four hard days of punting most racegoers will be hoping to finish the Cheltenham Festival on a winning note in the competitive Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase at 5.30pm and the horse to send his supporters home happy could be the David Pipe-trained Vaniteux.
The nine-year-old was a decent hurdler having finished third behind Vautour in the 2014 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the festival as well as finding only The New One too good in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Prestbury Park later that year. In the care of Nicky Henderson then the son of Voix Du Nord soon made his mark over fences winning at Kempton and Doncaster prior to unseating his rider in the 2016 Racing Post Arkle.
That race was won by none other than Willie Mullins’ superstar Douvan and while the mount of Nico De Boinville would have come out second best to that horse it is more than likely that the gelding would have finished in front of subsequent Gold Cup winner Sizing John and the top class Fox Norton. An impressive winner at Ayr on his penultimate start for Henderson earned Vaniteux a mark of 158 before joining David Pipe at Pond House last October.
The horse has been highly tried in five starts for his new stable, never going off shorter than 20-1, and looks to have been trained with this festival handicap in mind. Due to run off a rating of 151 ( has won off 152, 153 and 154 ) Vaniteux must have a great chance if running up to anything like his best form and with this shrewd stable knowing how to get one ready for the big occasion is probably Pipe’s best opportunity of a winner at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
No doubt there will be many dangers come the day of the race, the most likely being the lightly-raced Dolos (Cheltenham betting wise: 20-1 William Hill and Betfred ) from the Paul Nicholls stable.