On day 2 of the November meeting we really ramp up the quality. The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the feature race in which we should see an epic battle up the hill, while we also have a couple of Grade 2’s to look forward to.
12.30 (Triumph Hurdle Trial – Grade 2) – DUFFLE COAT
Short-priced favourite Hell Red, Gordon Elliott’s Duffle Coat and Adagio look to be the three horses to concentrate on in this race, but despite giving away weight it could be the Irish raider who comes out on top.
Already rated 133, Duffle Coat is unbeaten in three runs and has very definitely shown the speed needed around the Old Course between hurdles.
Paul Nicholls’ Hell Red made a good impression on his British debut at Chepstow recently, but he’ll need to improve plenty to get to Robbie Power’s mount who looks overpriced to us.
1.05 (Handicap Chase for Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders – Class 3) – KILFILUM CROSS
A tough race to call, both in terms of horse form and in attempting to second guess the varying ability of the jockeys involved, but the most solid on the list probably Kilfilum Cross.
Others, including Lamanver Pippin, Bermeo and What A Moment all rate highly too, but Henry Oliver’s nine-year-old is solid in the conditions, is race fit and is proven around Cheltenham after finishing second in last season’s Kim Muir.
1.40 (November Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – QUEL DESTIN
Most of the money pre-race is bound to go the way of impressive two-time chase winner Fusil Raffles, while Eldorado Allen appears to have it all to do despite being second-favourite.
Simply going for the best value though, it could pay to side with Paul Nicholls’ chasing debutant Quel Destin. Given his hurdle form, he’s the highest rated horse in this contest and even gets 3lbs from Fusil Raffles, and while you’d usually want to see him have a run first it is perhaps pertinent that his esteemed trainer throws him straight in at this level.
Furthermore, while most punters would rightfully expect improvement from first to second outing over the larger obstacles, many horses of his type are better over fences than they are over hurdles making that rating look all the more intriguing.
2.15 (Paddy Power Gold Cup – Grade 3) – AL DANCER
This is a good quality renewal, one in which past Cheltenham and big-race form should very much come to the fore.
Simply The Betts was excellent in winning two big handicaps around here in January and at the Festival in March and will attract plenty of money, while Paul Nicholls’ Saint Sonnet is a most interesting former French runner who may prove to be well treated in the weights.
The one attracting overnight support is Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher, however having had close form with him, being open to plenty of improvement and being nearly twice the price, the smart play is definitely Al Dancer.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard is going really well right now and that counts for plenty, while there appear to be no negatives in the trip, the grade or the course for the graded hurdle winner.
For what it’s worth, Mister Fisher is next on our list and it could be that their first and second from Doncaster last January in a Grade 2 novices’ race is the key piece of form in this event.
2.50 (Paddy Power Games Handicap Hurdle – Listed Race) – DANDY DAN
Despite the Listed grade of the race, there are many holes in the form and in the profiles of some of the principal runners.
On The Blind Side may prove to be too big a price here, though he has been off the track for quite some time, while likely favourite Tea Clipper has form figures of 111121 and cannot be discounted.
The jolly won at Grade 3 level last time out at Chepstow and clearly has the ability, but winning over 2m3f on good ground then belting round the Old Course for three miles are two very different things. With that in mind, it would be a brave punter who would take a short price about a horse who has gone up 7lbs in the weights.
Enter Kim Bailey’s Dandy Dan, a seven-year-old of Kim Bailey’s having his first hurdle run since April 2018. On the face of it the handicapper hasn’t taken many chances with his hurdle mark, but it is still 5lbs lower than his chase rating and he put in a career high last time over fences. He could be well-in.
3.25 (Handicap Hurdle – Class 3) – WHATSUPWITHYOU
The obvious one here is Dr Richard Newland’s Captain Tom Cat, a winner three times since July including last time out at Cheltenham.
While he did win comfortably that day, he has gone up another 6lbs in the handicap for a winning what was a tight race in the end.
Only 4¾ lengths behind in seventh that day was Whatsupwithyou who has been kept at the same mark. That 6lb pull could be handy enough, but when you also consider that the race was little more than a pipe-opener for Ben Pauling’s six-year-old who now looks quite well positioned to reverse those placings.
Son Of Camas and Topofthecotswolds are both on the list too, though they aren’t of as much interest as the well-priced selection.
3.55 (Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – ELLE EST BELLE
Clear of the others in the market are Ishkhara Lady, Ucanaver and Elle Est Belle with the last named being the one to focus on.
While the other two mares are also last time out winners, Dan Skelton’s runner scored on her only outing to date in little more than a hack canter and yet put in a performance that would entitle her to favouritism here anyway.
The level of improvement she can reach makes her a rock-solid favourite in this contest and so she should be able to finish off the day in the right way for backers of the market leader.