Day two of Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting looks like being one to remember, if not for outright quality then for those to keep on side with one eye on the near future.
Plenty in these seven fields are going the right way and many will be aimed ultimately at the festival in March, so it’s notebooks at the ready for sure. Betting wise there is some good value out there on Saturday, with these being our choices:
2.00 (3m1f Handicap Chase) – ROCKY’S TREASURE
We have some good old handicappers and some very familiar names on show for the opener, a staying handicap chase with £37,000 put up for the winner.
While full respect remains given to experienced types such as Rock The Kasbah, a big winner at last year’s November meeting, and The Young Master who won at the same meet, they may be usurped by one with a little more to give in the shape of Rocky’s Treasure.
Kim Bailey’s 8yo has a record of 4 wins, 2 seconds and a third in just eight chase races and now that he’s fresh from a break, we should see another lively performance likely better than his rating of 147 making him well-in.
2.35 (2m½f 4yo Hurdle) – TORPILLO
While it’s always difficult to assess these inexperienced 4yo’s, there are a few against the field with form enough to make very strong cases.
Soviet Pimpernel is two from two since September after a break, though even in receipt of weight he should struggle to get to Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin. The Ditcheat gelding had a very busy time between April 2018 and March 2019 so again we can expect more now he’s fresh, but a lot of improvement will need to be forthcoming for even him to beat the selection.
Torpillo is one who took a fair step forward from last season’s form when he landed a Chepstow handicap hurdle and, if anything, he should probably improve again for the greater test of going round here on rain-softened ground for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.
3.10 (2m Handicap Chase) – KNOCKNANUSS
A good, competitive handicap chase over the minimum distance and one in which several horses are hard for us to separate.
At varying prices Mcgroarty (Dr Richard Newland), Brelan D’As (Paul Nicholls) and Marracudja (Dan Skelton) will all offer fair value and should give backers a run for their money, but the one with so much potential after his 203 days off his Gary Moore’s Knocknanuss.
Having improved very satisfactorily between the autumns of 2017 and 2018, he floundered rather at the end of last season having been as short as 11/2 for the Irish Arkle when falling. With that experience hopefully now out of his head, he appears to be very well handicapped indeed off a mark of 144 and could take some stopping.
3.45 (3m Handicap Hurdle) – THECLOCKISTICKING
A three-mile handicap hurdle that will take some getting, this is a tight heat and one we couldn’t offer a selection on with any great deal of confidence.
That said, despite not exactly looking clear of the field, the one who just could be better than what we’ve see thus far is Stuart Edmunds’ Theclockisticking, first time out after a wind operation.
He had been chasing before his op, but returning him to hurdles could be a smart move and he is tentatively taken to score ahead of Sunset Showdown, Captain Tommy and Neverbeen To Paris.
4.20 (3m Novices’ Hurdle) – RAMSES DE TEILLEE
Unsurprisingly in a race featuring some runners offering little do go on in the way of form, The Butcher Said looks sure to go off favourite having won each of his last four races, indeed he’s won four and finished second once since a receiving a wind operation and moving to Olly Murphy’s yard.
His out and out ability though arguably just doesn’t match up to David Pipe’s Ramses De Teille who reverts to novice hurdling now after going chasing and reaching a rating of 153.
A wind op of his own, as well as having that chasing experience, has been done since the last time he stepped over a hurdle and it’s safe to say he’s way better now than he was two years ago. Some Chaos could be the one to complete the first three.
4.55 (2m4f Novices’ Chase) – SECRET INVESTOR
As expected this is a race full of contenders whose limits we as yet don’t know, but in the case of Secret Investor we reckon we’ve found one that has the most potential right at this part of the season, despite giving away weight to most.
Paul Nicholls’ 7yo is ready to pick up where he left off last season, the son of Kayf Tara having bagged form figures of 22411 in his first season as a chaser. All his best work was done on good ground last term, but he’s run well on softer ground over hurdles before and this test should be to his liking.
The main challengers appear to be Ian Williams’ First Assignment and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Topofthecotswolds who each have solid place chances at very pair prices at the time of writing.
5.30 (2m½f National Hunt Flat Race) – BARBADOS BUCK’S
Very few in this line-up have done much in public so it goes without saying that any selection here has to be a tentative one, as such we recommend going in with small stakes.
The betting should be very telling in this contest, so watch out for big money coming for something late in the day, but without the benefit seeing that play out the choice is Paul Nicholls’ Barbados Buck’s.
An expensive pointing recruit, the 4yo was second when last seen out and should be fit enough to do himself justice on his British bumper debut.
A significant reduction in the odds for the likes of Butte Montana, The Newest One or Time Flies By would be interesting to say the least.