Saturday, 17 November 2018

November Meeting Day Three: Royal To Be Crowned In Grade 2 Chase

The last of three wonderful days of racing at Prestbury Park takes place on Sunday with the potential for us to see future contenders for the Champion Hurdle in the Greatwood, as well as potential entrants in the Arkle and the Supreme Novices’.

We get going at 1.15 with the first of six races, all of which we have good value selections for starting with the conditional jockeys’ race where a big priced horse may well defy his odds:

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1.15 (2m5f Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle) – FOLLOW THE BEAR

Ned Curtis takes the ride on Nicky Henderson’s charge, a six-year-old gelding who needs to take a step forward from him seasonal bow at Aintree when beaten 15 lengths.

He hasn’t won in fact since May 2017 at Kempton Park but remains capable and showed a good level of form this time last year when third at Worcester and it’s thought today could be the day he rediscovers his best before perhaps starting to make his way up the hurdling ladder somewhat.

One at a big price who could also go well is David Pipe’s Three Star General who, like the selection, is only a young horse and not one to give up on just yet.  Ballyhome will be much more popular in the betting than the aforementioned pair and looks good for place money representing Fergal O’Brien.

1.50 (2m Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – CLAIMANTAKINFORGAN

Nicky Henderson is the man the watch and his 6yo may yet for the Arkle itself in March at the Festival, though that becomes a more realistic prospect if he does manage to take this race.

He reached a mark of 151 over hurdles, albeit in a short five-race career over the smaller obstacles and it seems the yard think he’ll be much better over fences making him potentially quite a formidable opponent for his rivals in this race.

Although he didn’t have much to beat he performed perfectly well on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter at the start of this month which should have set him up nicely to tackle Grade 2 company for the first time and he is taken to score ahead of Philip Hobbs’ seasonal debutant Defi Du Seuil.

2.25 (Schloer Chase – Grade 2 – 2m) – SCEAU ROYAL

Sceau Royal’s debut season over fences saw him win four and finish a close runner-up here at Cheltenham and so it’ll be no surprise if he’s a short priced favourite on Sunday for Alan King and Daryl Jacob.

That confidence could prove to be well founded however as this French-bred just gets better and better and seems certain to be aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase back here at the Festival in four months time.

This impressive type jumps well, goes well fresh and is already a Grade 1 winner as a novice meaning there are few chinks in his armour.  Any flaws he does show on his first run of the season need to be seized upon and if that is to happen then it is likely to be by Brain Power of the Nicky Henderson yard, a horse who is having his first run since a wind op in July and who was second to Footpad in last season’s Arkle.

3.00 (Greatwood Hurdle – Grade 3 – 2m ½f) – STORM RISING

The most talked about horse in the race is bound to be last weekend’s Elite Hurdle winner Verdana Blue and sure enough, Nicky Henderson’s representative is high on the list.

There is a train of thought with Jeremiah McGrath’s mount though that he may not be at his very best around Cheltenham and we have to consider that, no matter how simple he made it look last week, that the Elite will have taken some winning and so the race must have taken something out of him meaning this quick turnaround is not quite ideal.

Storm Rising is a much more attractive price and has all the credentials needed.  He loves Cheltenham, stays well and is improving hand over fist for his new yard and may well just strip much fitter than most in this line-up for Dr Richard Newland and as such rates a very fair bet.

Silver Streak and Western Ryder are others to consider in what is a cracking early season race over the Champion Hurdle distance.

3.30 (2m ½f Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – SEDDON

What we’re looking for in these trials is not so much the best horse according to where they all stand going into the race, but rather which one has the combination of ability and potential and with that in mind we could see somewhat of a coming of age of Tom George’s Seddon.

Having only run three times under rules, once over hurdles, we’ve no idea yet how good he could become but what we do know is that he’s already got to roughly the level shown by chief rival Itchy Feet and done so with less miles on the clock than Olly Murphy’s runner.

A good step forward is expected then and with that victory in Grade 2 company with Adrian Heskin once again in the saddle.

4.00 (2m ½f Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – THYME HILL

As impressive as McFabulous was on debut at Chepstow in October the race was nothing out of the ordinary and so until he does it again we should just curb our enthusiasm somewhat.

With that in mind, let’s consider the way Philip Hobbs’ 4yo won his own bumper at Worcester where on the book he achieved less than the Paul Nicholls horse but did it so easily we have no real idea how much he had in hand that day.

Like his main rival he’s been treated carefully, waiting 5½ weeks to come here rather than getting straight back out on the track and the tactic may pay dividends here today with a win under Richard Johnson.

Friday, 16 November 2018

November Meeting Day Two: Rock The Kasbah To Take Handicap Clash

Day two at Cheltenham in the November meeting and more great action is on the cards.  A good Grade 2 Juvenile race and a Listed Bumper bookend what is sure to be a terrific day featuring the BetVictor Gold Cup for which we have a cracking value bet!

Here are our selection for all seven races on the card, starting with a fine bunch of youngsters aiming for the Triumph Hurdle back at this track in March.

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12.40 (Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2 – 2m ½f) – NEVER ADAPT

We’re hoping this one isn’t particularly well named given that we’re in hope that he can adjust from France, where he won so easily on heavy ground, to Cheltenham on a better surface but if he does he could be a level above these rivals in all truth.

It goes without saying that owner JP McManus and top trainer Nicky Henderson have the Triumph Hurdle itself at the front of their minds for this horse and while he doesn’t need to win this, it would certainly help his cause.  Look out for Montestrel for place money.

1.15 (3m ½f Novices’ Chase) – THE WORLDS END

An unoriginal selection perhaps and things are probably closer between this one and Minella Awards than many believe, but the level our boy reached over hurdles and the way he won on his chase debut suggest he may just have too much on this occasion for the opposition assembled.

Minella Awards did win well also at Aintree but only had one rival to beat that day while best of the rest, though some way back in fact, could be Ibis Du Rheu for the Paul Nicholls yard with Harry Cobden on board.

1.50 (3m 3½f Handicap Chase) – ROCK THE KASBAH

Philip Hobbs’ runner didn’t really hit the expected heights on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow when a well beaten favourite, though his career doesn’t exactly stop there and a much better performance is on the cards this time now that he has that run under his belt.

His best run was his sign-off effort last season when running second to the well-handicapped Step Back in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and he looks ready now to take a step forward and furthermore would be doing so off a 2lb lower mark.

The likes of Vicente and Singlefarmpayment are likely to be vying for places and are expected to be prominent in what will be a lively betting market.

2.25 (BetVictor Gold Cup – 2m4f Handicap Chase) – BARON ALCO

Gary Moore may take the feature race with his French bred Baron Alco who ran extremely well when coming back from a long break at Chepstow only to run out of steam in the closing stages to be a close second to Charbel.

He’s expected to be much fitter today and as such he can carry on his climb up the chasing ranks having previously run into Top Notch and Road To Respect in good races at Cheltenham and Sandown including at Grade 1 level.  His form figures over the larger obstacles in fact are 3121222.

Nicky Henderson’s Rather Be and Kalondra of Neil Mulholland’s yard are next on the list for places, the latter named especially looking likely to fight all the way against our selection.

3.00 (3m Listed Handicap Hurdle) – BOYHOOD

All eyes will be on First Assignment of the Ian Williams here and at first glance he’s the rightful favourite however there’s a lot to like about the second-top weight Boyhood of Tom George’s and he may be the value choice in this line-up.

The seven-year-old hasn’t run since New Year’s Day when taking a three-mile hurdle here at Cheltenham on heavy ground but if anything he may appreciate the better surface this time and may simply make his staying power count under jockey Paddy Brennan when the going gets tough up the hill at the finish.

Olly Murphy and Richard Johnson team up with Weebill who may be challenging for places when the race gets going in earnest but unless something happens to the leading two he looks a little way off for win purposes.

3.30 (2m5f Handicap Hurdle) – SPEEDO BOY

Ian Williams’ 4yo may have been underestimated off a mark of just 118 as he is sure to improve over hurdles this season.  He has been in cracking form on the Flat this year too having run fifth in the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster before going sixth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket marking him out as a potentially decent hurdler for this term.

The key to this one could be the step up in trip from two miles to 2m5f and he is taken to score this time under Tom O’Brien at the probable expense of the likes of Lygon Rock and Westend Story.

4.00 (Listed Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) – ROYAL ILLUSION

Willie Mullins is not really in the habit of sending mugs to Cheltenham and he could be set to land another good prize in the form of this Listed event with his Royal Illusion, ridden by Danny Mullins.

A winner two weeks ago at Cork, he had any amount in hand that day and if anything can improve further quite quickly making him a fair bet to score in the lucky last.  Mrs Hyde and Paul Nicholls’ Danse Idol are sure to go well and will make plenty of appeal in the ring though you feel Royal Illusion will have to under-perform for either of them to grab the win.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

November Meeting Day One: Dig Up Some Double Treasure In The Lucky Last

We have three fantastic days of racing at Prestbury Park to come across this weekend, day one bringing us potentially a big betting opportunity at a nice price as this year’s Grand National winner reappears in the Cross-Country Chase.

12.40 (3m1f Amateur Rider’s Handicap Chase) – SKY PIRATE

In these amateur rider’s events we can perhaps be afforded the chance to place more emphasis on the jockey than normal as some are considerably better than others at this stage of their careers.

With that in mind, the booking of Patrick Mullins for Sky Pirate can be taken as a big positive and goes hand-in-hand with the improvement shown by Jonjo O’Neill’s horse to create what looks like a good value bet.

Having run second the last twice but got better each time, the 5yo seems capable of another step forward in this race and with that could have too much for last-time-out winner The Young Master who isn’t quite as good as he was though does have the assistance of Sam Waley-Cohen, along with For Good Measure of Philip Hobbs’ yard.

1.15 (2m ½f Novices’ Handicap Hurdle) – DOSTAL PHIL

This one has to go close to being called our bet of the day.  Philip Hobbs’ 5yo is having what is only his fourth run under rules and his second after a wind operation and it seems clear we can expect plenty of improvement on what we’ve seen thus far.

A winner on debut at Deauville two years ago, he was a beaten favourite under Barry Geraghty this time last year on his stable debut before another setback meant a break of yet another year.  He took a step forward four weeks ago for Hobbs and Geraghty when running second at Uttoxeter and it seems the stable expect much better now.

Normal rate of improvement may see him win this with Nicky Henderson’s fellow French recruit Dream Du Grand Val perhaps next best while the booking of Richard Johnson on Snapdragon Fire may create a betting buzz for a horse capable of the places.

1.50 (2m Handicap Chase) – BUN DORAN

When rating this race we couldn’t help noticing that plenty of them were close together in terms of ability versus weight – Shanahan’s Turn, Movie Legend and Peppay Le Pugh for example all having precious little between them on the numbers.

The two that stood out however were Ben Pauling’s A Hare Breath and Tom George’s Bun Doran and the latter is the selection.  A Hare Breath is well fancied for this and it would be no surprise to see him win it, though with a few more years in the bank we can expect more improvement from Bun Doran and he has been equally well backed this week.

Having not raced for 218 days there is a bit of guesswork involved in the selection, but after only 9 chases there is clearly more to come from this one and today could be his day under jockey Paddy Brennan.

2.25 (2m4f Novices’ Chase) – MR WHIPPED

This is the race we’re least confident about so do bear that in mind, though the choice of Mr Whipped appears to have been backed up by the money coming for the Nicky Henderson horse this week.

Four wins and a second preceded his pulling-up here in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival in March and his top trainer has always thought he’d make a chaser.  The fact we should see a better chaser than hurdler is taken into account, but how good he is bound to be is an unknown.

After winning 12 days ago on chase debut we have a little more to go on with Count Meribel and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner rates second best, while Jerrysback is the intriguing one for Philip Hobbs after winning both his hurdle races hard held.  If there is very strong money for him on Saturday morning and/or just before the race – take note.

3.00 (3m6f Cross Country Handicap Chase) – MIDNIGHT SHOT

If the likely short-priced favourite and Grand National 2018 winner Tiger Roll does indeed come back here and win on the bridle it’ll be great to see after his Aintree heroics, however at these prices it’s very easy to take a chance on Charlie Longsdon’s Midnight Shot.

The 8yo has plenty more to give at this stage and despite previously having been thought of as a 2½ mile horse he improved markedly last time for a step up to three miles when scoring at Fakenham.  He can be better again over this unique course and distance and in receipt of 21lbs from Tiger Roll his price is simply too big.

Bless The Wings of Gordon Elliott’s probably rates as best of the rest but at 13 years old even in a cross country race it’s conjecture as to what level of form we can expect, especially after more than 200 days off the track.

3.35 (2m5f Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – DOUBLE TREASURE

We finish the day with this Grade 2 hurdle and there is of course a distinct lack of experience on show here, though no little potential.

We can’t help thinking favourite Pym is overrated in the context of this race so at these prices we cannot have him, though Coolanly looks a little more likely among those at the head of the betting market for trainer Fergal O’Brien and a place therefore would be no surprise.

Colin Tizzard’s Darlac is an intriguing runner having won ever so easily on his hurdling debut under Richard Johnson, though that was on good-to-firm over at Fontwell and it remains to be seen whether he’s as good with cut in the ground.

The one to be on though could be Jamie Snowden’s Double Treasure after a successful summer and autumn over timber.  He may not be the best of these in 3-6 months time but right now he is overpriced, arguably because he is not from one of the very top yards.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Saturday 27th October: Gumball To Sugar Coat Cheltenham Day Two

Much like Friday, day two of Cheltenham’s opening meeting of the season gives us another seven races to get stuck into, all 7 of them being Class 2 races for good measure so we should see some pretty nice types for the future coming out this weekend.

Whatever is placed in these races today are bound to be horses to watch, at least for the first few months of the season anyway, so get your notebooks out but in the meantime here are what we think are the best of the bunch on day 2 of the opening meeting of Prestbury Park’s season:

2.00 (3m1f Handicap Chase) – RELENTLESS DREAMER

We have a very competitive thee mile, one furlong handicap chase to kick things off with and we could have found an excellent each-way shout in the shape of Rebecca Curtis’ Relentless Dreamer at a very tasty price.

The 9yo came out for just one summer run in a very valuable race at Uttoxeter and showed his wellbeing when running third under jockey Adam Wedge.  The same man is jocked up today and he can guide our horse to a strong finish at nice enough oddse along with Branqudeur D’Or and For Good Measure who will each be popular in the ring.

2.35 (2m+ 4yo only Hurdle) – GUMBALL

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why the top one Redicean is favourite for this race however there is a strong feeling that Philip Hobbs’ horses were under a cloud all of last season and thus will be coming out this year really rather underestimated.

The time to watch them may well be in handicap races as it appears they will be running off marks that do not truly represent their ability and thus will be getting weight all round, for now though we see an opportunity in this contest.

Gumball then is one who, at these weights anyway, can possibly prove to be too good for this lot at a very fair price and can take care of both the favourite Redicean and potentially also Padleyourowncanoe for place money.

3.10 (2m Handicap Chase) – FOXTAIL HILL

This could be another one for the Twiston-Davies yard as his Foxtail Hill looks like a decent bet to get his season off to the best possible start in the two-mile handicap chase.

Having won this race last year, Foxtail Hill has clearly shown before a liking for these conditions and for the time of year and may be fair value to double up.  Bigmarte looks set for place money while I had Modus down as a possible winner of the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday so if this is his trainer’s preferred destination then we must take note of that.

3.45 (3m Handicap Hurdle) – AARON LAD

Dr Richard Newland has very promising 5lb claimer Charlie Hammond up on his Aaron Lad for this and the move may well pay dividends on Saturday with the extra weight possibly the final nail in the coffin of the opposition.

Moving up the ranks nicely before pulling up last backend, Aaron Lad skipped his first planned assignment this season on account of a vet’s certificate but appears ready to go and may well find himself handicapped well enough to take this ahead of Sykes at a big price.

4.20 (3m Novices’ Hurdle) – DINIONS

He may well go off at a short price and as favourite I’m afraid, but it’s hard to ignore the chances of Gordon Elliott’s Dinions n this who comes to Prestbury Park chasing a five-timer.

The races he has been winning en route to this race this year have been nothing of this sort of quality of course, however he’s been doing it all with considerable ease and looks a decent bet to keep his winning run going under top man Richard Johnson.

Colin Tizzard looks set for another good season and his Ultragold is probably best of the rest on this occasion while De Name Evades Me can run on into the places too.

4.55 (2m4f Novices’ Chase) – MONBEG LEGEND

Nicky Henderson’s name has not appeared too much in our first two blogs of the Cheltenham season but it will surely start typing itself by the time December rolls around!

The legendary trainer runs Monbeg Legend in this and all things considered he looks the safest bet, the 8-year-old having not run outside of the first two in any of his 5 chase races to date and with plenty more improvement surely to come.

Gordon Elliot teams up once again with Cubomania and there’ll be a fair few bets running on him should Dinions go on to win the 4.20, however he may just find one too good on this occasion.  Movewiththetimes remains one to look out for and could yet pose a danger under Barry Geraghty.

5.30 (2m+ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) – STRONG GLANCE

We hope to end Cheltenham’s opening meeting of the season on a high and will take a chance on Strong Glance being the horse that can do it for us.

Fergal O’Brien’s came on nicely from race one to race two; scoring on debut in good style at Southwell before running a more than respectable fifth in a Listed bumper at Ascot back in December.

He has been wisely waited with and comes from the yard that won this race last season so it’s hoped they know exactly what they have at their disposal and that he is good enough to get the job done.  Alain Cawley rides.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Friday 26th October: Rockerfeller To Bring Us Riches As Cheltenham Returns

Cheltenham makes a long awaited return to the racing calendar this weekend as we fully begin the transitional period between Flat racing and the National Hunt season.

It’s a seven-race card to get us going and we’ll be racing here again on Saturday so keep an eye out for more information, though we start with a fairly low key novices’ hurdle on Friday’s card:

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2.00 (2m5f Novices’ Hurdle) – HAVANA BEAT

Tony Carroll’s gelding was improving nicely over hurdles when falling at Haydock Park back in May and we should see an even better horse this season, starting hopefully with a win here.

The son of Teofilo had a sharpener on the all-weather at Kempton recently where he recovered from a slow start to be 9 lengths off the pace at 50/1, but this is much more his niche.  A step forward from his win at Aintree in April may see him win this at the main expense of Go Another One and Make My Heart Fly.

2.35 (2m Novices’ Chase) – DIAKALI

All things being equal, and they aren’t always equal at Cheltenham to be fair, Gary Moore and Joshua Moore should be winning this with Diakali who is now 2 from 2 over the bigger obstacles with both wins very wide margin ones in the summer.

This race is definitely more competitive however he looks a really nice type and if jumping cleanly can take care of One For Billy and Caid Du Lin to keep his 100% chasing record intact.

3.10 (2m5f Handicap Hurdle) – MR ANTOLINI

This is traditionally a very good time of year for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and he can score once more in this competitive handicap at a nice price with this Mr Antolini.

Second in the Sussex Champion Hurdle at Plumpton when last seen in April, he took the Imperial Cup before that and despite an 8lb rise in the weights since then he looks good to go forward a little more this season, especially now he’s going up in trip.

Whatthebutlersaw and the four-year-old Melody Of Scotland may yet prove significant dangers but I’d be disappointed if our horse is not there or thereabouts at the finish.

3.45 (3m+ Novices’ Chase) – LIL ROCKERFELLER

We’re not suggested here that Neil King’s runner should be getting up to the high class levels of form he has shown as a hurdler, but then again he really shouldn’t need to in order to win this novice event.

His chasing debut was a winning one at Uttoxeter and while that form in itself isn’t enough to back him with extreme certainty here, we know he is bound to have improved from that and any step forward over fences in this race should make him good enough to beat Treacle Tart, who is fair value, and also Arctic Gold.

4.20 (2m+ Maiden Hurdle) – SEVEN DE BAUNE

It’s incredibly difficult to predict what any of these horses may be over hurdles in the fullness of time, but the level to which Seven De Baune ran in a bumper at Uttoxeter and the manner in which he won the race suggests he may just about be the best of this particular field.

A look at the early prices places this chap at around the 7/1 mark and that would represent terrific value, though watch out also for strong runs from Thomas Darby and in particular Sebastapol in behind at fair prices also.

4.55 (3m1f Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase) – ANOTHER FRONTIER

It’s Nigel Twiston-Davies’ time of year, this horse is fit and in winning form and he’s our second top weight.  In other words; let’s stick with the class option.

After a near 7-month break, Another Frontier reappeared at Uttoxeter recently with a rather comfortable win, certainly more comfortable than a rise of 5lbs in the ratings would suggest and the fact that he looked a little rusty that day too lends weight to the theory that he’ll have improved plenty for that run.

Oighear Dubh and Asking Questions look perhaps the most obvious dangers in what is admittedly a very competitive race but one that our boy looks very capable of winning.

5.30 (2m+ Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle) – NOAH AND THE ARK

We’re taking a bit of a chance here on a young horse who is in terrific form at present.  Noah And The Ark is just a four-year-old of Donald McCain’s but one who is improving rapidly and who can take another significant step forward by winning this race at a nice price.

His wins at Stratford and Kelso don’t read so well just on their own, but he’s been doing it so easily and if anything looks as though he’ll get better with a stronger test and he’ll certainly get that here around this course.

Magic Dancer looks best of the rest after his wind operation while both Lord Condi and Malachite are entitled to go well in the lucky last, hopefully just for place money.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Hunter Chase Evening: Gold Cup Final To Be A Barel Of Laughs At HQ

Jumping fans are treated to an evening of Hunter Chasing on Friday at Prestbury Park and once again the night is a great chance for quality point-to-point jockeys and trainers to land a win on the big stage.

Live DJ sets and a proper Bank Holiday weekend atmosphere are expected and we have a quick précis and a selection for all seven races on the card, starting with the two-miler at 4.55:

4.55 (2m+ Open Hunters’ Chase) – MONSIEUR GIBRALTAR

The 7yo has been going well between the flags of late and was a strong favourite under rules at Ascot recently, unseating four from home.

Lorcan Williams has won on the horse before and should be able to get a decent tune out of him, if so then favourite backers can get off to a pretty decent start.

The main challenge to the jolly may well come from Mantou at a good price following a nice win at Sedgefield 11 days ago and he looks good value to grab a place under Edward Glassonbury.

5.30 (3m2f Hunters’ Chase) – BALLYBANE

The eight-year-old hasn’t gone under rules for quite some time but did show ability for Rebecca Curtis and may well be good enough to land this at a good price ahead of likely favourite Dunhallow Tornado.

Claire Harris’ charge has been doing particularly well in point-to-points under today’s jockey David Prichard and with a clean round may well make the weight advantage he has over his main rival count for plenty up the hill.

6.05 (3m1f Open Hunters’ Chase) – STOLEAWAY

Philip Rowley’s Stoleaway landed the odds nicely enough at Chaddesley Corbett over 2m4f last time out but has been even more impressive over three miles and will appreciate the step up in trip for this one.

Bally River Boy was beaten fair and square over a similar trip last time out when going left-handed at Kingston Blount and may get close but perhaps not be quite good enough, while ten-year-old Foxcub is another who will appreciate conditions and can run a big one.

6.40 (Mixed Open Gold Cup Final Hunters’ Chase – 3m2f+) – BAREL OF LAUGHS

Philip Rowley will expect to be sending out the hot favourite for this race and to my mind should be expecting to land the £15,000 pot as well with Barel Of Laughs.

The 12yo son of Milan ran a blinder when third in the Foxhunter’s at the Cheltenham Festival in March and has basically been laid out for this race since then.  Alex Edwards once again takes the ride.

Pentiffic may be too big an each-way price if recovering OK from running between the flags only 5 days ago at Knightwick when unseating his rider Lucy Turner who will be on board again.

7.15 (3m1f Mares’ Open Hunters’ Chase) – FRELIA

Despite the presence of Queen Olivia and Popaway in this the race can go to Frelia on the basis of her being less exposed than her rivals and thus open to slightly more improvement on the big stage.

Although a beaten favourite last time, she has shown consistent form right through the spring and may just have too much under Bradley Gibbs and can score once again in a race she has already won by 51 lengths.

7.50 (4m+ Open Hunters’ Chase) – BATTLE DUST

Philip Rowley could be on for a very big night and may score again in this marathon with his 9yo Chepstow winner Battle Dust.

The trip is somewhat extreme but one could argue that he has shown around the same level of form when running well over a variety of trips and so if anything it’ll take something like this to unlock a little bit of improvement from him.

Former Jonjo O’Neill inmate Al Co and You Too Pet may also be set for big runs at decent prices.

8.25 (2m4f+ Open Hunters’ Chase) – FULL THROTTLE

Match fit from a run and a win under rules at Ludlow last month, Full Throttle can put to the test the theory that horses run at their best on their second run after having had wind surgery.

The op seemed to make enough of a difference to him when he beat Queen Olivia (well fancied in the 7.15) nicely last time but going strictly on the figures I’d say he has already achieved better than that and so may come on for that outing.

Bear’s Affair and Salubrious are the horses expected to chase home Sam Lee’s mount in the lucky last.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

April Meeting 2018 Day Two: Here Come The Girls

It's all about the lassies on the second of two competitive days of Cheltenham action in the April meeting as the fillies and mares take over the entire card at Prestbury Park on Thursday.

We have once again found some excellent value bets on a day which kicks off with no less than three Listed events.  Here are the best of the contenders:

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2.05 (2m4f Mares' Novices' Hurdle) (Listed) - DAME DE COMPAGNIE

Festival runners Angels Antics and Dame Rose will be well fancied here but both pulled-up last month and have had a hard time on the softer ground with no guarantee that a sounder surface will now help them.

The one who I think will love this better going is Dame De Compagnie for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson and she gets the vote to take the opener on day two - watch out for strong money for her in the betting ring just before the off.

2.40 (2m5f Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase) (Listed) - MIDNIGHT TARGET

There could be some great value here in John Groucott's entrant Midnight Target who appears to me to be very well handicapped indeed.

I say that as, despite having gone up plenty for a novice chase second then a handicap win at Huntingdon, she will love the better ground here and is improving plenty so could score at the expense of The Bay Birch who seems perhaps to be more comfortably in the assessor's grip.

3.15 (2m4f Mares' Handicap Hurdle) (Listed) - MAJESTIC MOLL

Emma Lavelle's 6yo mare is a last time out winner but in fact hasn't run for 138 days meaning she should be entirely fresh for this good ground assignment.

She scored really well at Doncaster in December and looks to be a proper improver, one who is bound to make her handicap mark look a little generous on this occasion.  She can score at the expense of Midnight Jazz of Ben Case.

3.50 (3m2f Mares' Handicap Chase) - MAID OF MILAN

We've not had the chance yet to see the best of Charlie Mann's mare over fences and crucially, nor has the handicapper which is why we should be backing her to take this prize.

She fell last time when an odds-on jolly but has been given plenty of time to recover and looks to be anything up to half a stone well-in for this one if she goes the way I think she will on the better ground.  She should have too much for the likes of Jennys Surprise and Same Circus.

4.25 (2m1f Fillies' Juvenile Handicap Hurdle) - SHINE BABY SHINE

This is a tough one to take a stab at given the inexperience of all involved, but it may pay to take Shine Baby Shine to just outclass main rivals Hillcrest Fire and Cubswin.

Philip Kirby's filly probably just appreciated better ground when running on the Flat so I can see why she's shown limited form so far over hurdles, though her win at Catterick last month is a positive and she may well prove to be handicapped a little better than her rivals today which is what it's all about.

5.00 (2m 1/2f Mares' Handicap Chase) - SISTER SYBIL

Hopefully by the time post time comes around Hughie Morrison's mare's price isn't too restrictive as she surely rates as one of the best bets of the day.

Not only does she look very well handicapped for this, but her rivals are pretty thin on the ground with worries about the likes of Got Away and The Nipper while the others barely even come into the reckoning on form.  Let's hope for 6/4 or better about Tom O'Brien's mount who looks as solid as they come on an otherwise competitive day of action.

5.35 Cheltenham (2m1f Mares' Bumper - 4-6yo) - MECHELEN

We may yet get a pretty tidy price about David Pipe's four-year-old Mechelen and for me she is the one to be on in the lucky last.

The recent Taunton runner-up could close a riveting two days of the April meeting in fine style given that she has a ton of unexposed improvement in her, something which gives her the edge at the weights on the likes of Diamond Gait and Lust For Glory who each have place chances in a competitive enough looking finale.

Tom Scudamore take the mount for a horse who has been given plenty of time to recover from her debut and looks to be a great each-way shout at the very least.