We have more quality action on the last of three fantastic days during the November meeting, with potential Cheltenham Festival clues on offer too.
The Greatwood Hurdle may yet prove to be a genuine Champion Hurdle Trial, while at 3.35 some of those being pointed at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle are taking their first serious steps towards the Festival.
1.15 (Novices’ Chase – Class 2) – SOLDIER OF LOVE
Not that this is in any way considered a match race, but in Soldier Of Love and The Big Breakaway we have two contenders here who look to be a little way clear of the rest on the form book.
The latter, a five-year-old trained by Colin Tizzard, is set to be favourite but he is making his chasing debut and has been off the track for a little while now.
He may well be a talented type, but he may also need this run and so in being rated the same as his main rival he doesn’t look like an even-money shot to us.
Paul Nicholls’ Soldier Of Love, although beaten last time, is on a terrific run and there is no way we’ve got to the bottom of him yet. Another step forward here if it is forthcoming makes him pretty tough to beat and so at the odds, he is the call.
1.50 (Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – WEST APPROACH
We spend so much time looking for the next big thing, the horse we believe is improving and will reach a new level.
Sometimes though, in a near three-and-a-half-mile handicap chase around this track, it pays to go back to basics and so in ten-year-old West Approach we have the ideal candidate.
While it’s true Colin Tizzard’s runner is not getting any younger, he won this race last year in great fashion, albeit off 6lbs lower, and returned last month with another solid run to sharpen him up. He is no certainty of course, but West Approach may take some pegging back up the hill and is the one to be on.
In terms of his nearest rivals; Captain Drake, Discorama and Yala Enki are all of interest for each-way money and should be watched in the betting.
2.25 (Cheltenham Chase – Grade 2) – PUT THE KETTLE ON
The form of Al Dancer is appealing to us, hence we fancied him for Saturday’s feature event, and another horse who has ties with him is Henry De Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On.
Set to go off second-favourite for this event with Tingle Creek winner Defi Du Seuil in the line-up, he arguably possesses as much speed as anything else in the line-up bet crucially is given weight by Philip Hobbs’ runner and Rouge Vif.
Defi was beaten at the festival when a 2/5 shot and while that wasn’t his true running, Put The Kettle On’s win in the Arkle showed not only his class but his liking for Cheltenham which has never fully been proved by the jolly.
The aforementioned Rouge Vif, a comfortable winner at the meeting here last month, makes the list but he needs to take another big step forward to tackle the two genuine Grade 1 types in the field.
3.00 (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – PROSCHEMA
Alan King has a terrific record in this contest and so his Edwardstone will obviously attract plenty of support. Paul Nicholls’ young hurdler Thyme White has to be considered as does the overpriced Ballyandy, however the one to be on could well be Dan Skelton’s Proschema.
A very smart flat performer for Tom Dascombe who was briefly under consideration for The Derby at one point in his career, Proschema demolished his field last November at Wetherby but suffered a setback and spent the best part of a year off the track.
Needing a run to blow away the cobwebs, Proschema returned to Wetherby and ran a very sound race in second place and he is set to now reach his hurdling peak.
One thing is for certain and that is that he has the look of a horse who can be much better than his official mark of 131, so could easily be well-handicapped for this event under Harry Skelton.
3.35 (Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – COURTANDBOULD
Given the nature of this race, we have to watch it with an eye on the future. Over the course of time it seems certain that likely favourite Third Time Lucki will be the best of this particular bunch and could indeed head to the Supreme, but at prices around the 11/8 mark he is too short for us.
In at around 3/1 is Fergal O’Brien’s Courtandbould who has been on the go during the summer. He has reached a decent level, now rated 141, and still has at least a little more to give which all in all gives Third Time Lucki a rather steep level to aim at.
Paul Nicholls has Fidelio Vallis in this race and he is not without a chance either, but we know how well O’Brien’s horses go around Cheltenham at all meetings bar the Festival and so we can’t ignore that.
4.05 (Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – WESEEKHIMHERE
Gordon Elliott had a major disappointment with Tiger Roll on Friday but he is bound to land some success over the weekend.
While it is by no means a fool proof plan for backing winners, the fact that his hangs around until the very last race of the meeting to run one of his is a fact that can’t be totally ignored and so his Weseekhimhere is of most interest.
Already boasting the best form, albeit from little evidence given the type of race, the four-year-old seems like a reasonably solid wager to finish off the meeting.