Saturday 13 November 2021

November Meeting Day Three: Sunday 14th November 2021 - Champion Chaser Back for More

It’s been a brilliant November meeting already, but isn’t over yet! The Champion Chaser and former Arkle heroine, Put The Kettle On, returns to the scene of her most famous successes while the Greatwood Hurdle gives us an early look at some potential Champion Hurdlers for four months’ time.

1.10 (Novices’ Chase – Class 2) – DOES HE KNOW

Despite the makeup of the Old Course at Cheltenham, this race should be all about stamina as this inexperienced field of chasers tackles three miles while their trainers perhaps dream of future Gold Cup glory.

Oscar Elite comes back from a big break and stayed well enough over hurdles, winning over three miles on heavy ground, while Threeunderthrufive has had chasing experience already and has won over this distance on good ground.

The one that just looks a class above them perhaps is Kim Bailey’s Does He Know. 2-2 over fences, the six-year-old is a course and distance winner now and can still get much better yet.

Ground conditions are fine for him, he jumps these fences well and his handicap mark of 147 does not look anything like beyond him.

1.45 (Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – EMPIRE DE MAULDE

We see champion jockey-elect Brian Hughes at Cheltenham all too seldom, especially with winning chances, but he has a good one in the second race here and in top company too.

This is a good stayers’ race over nearly 3½ miles, one that is perfect for Hughes’ mount Empire De Maulde, trained in Scotland by James Ewart.

First or second in eight of his 13 chases to date, Empire De Maulde has won at Aintree and Kelso over longer trips, yet showed decent speed to run second at Kelso over 2m1f in September and that experience can stand him in good stead here.

He’ll have enough tactical speed to stay in a good position in this race, has the proven stamina to see it out and on the evidence of his latest win should still be a good few pounds ahead of the handicapper.

Yala Enki is not getting any younger and yet is the main danger in terms of the betting, and while he’ll have to be watched for the top Cheltenham pairing of Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost, he may just be outgunned this time.

2.20 (Cheltenham Chase – Grade 2) – PUT THE KETTLE ON

There are just the four runners for this Grade 2 contest, but what a quartet it is. We’re in for a real treat here indeed.

The outsider of the bunch is Rouge Vif, rated 159 and a Grade 2 winner in the past, Politologue (167) is a former Champion Chase winner, while Put The Kettle On (159) and Nube Negra (165) were first and second in the Champion Chase last season.

The quality is all there, and at the weights it may play to stick with the mare Put The Kettle On. Henry De Bromhead’s seven-year-old loves it here, winning the Arkle a year before her big victory here in March.

There may not be much between her and Nube Negra all things considered, but it would be no surprise to see them finish in a familiar order, while even at ten there is life left in Politologue yet who cannot be discounted.

2.55 (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – NO ORDINARY JOE

A cracking race; competitive, high-class and full of speed. Whether or not we see a potential Champion Hurdle winner, we will see a brilliant betting event in its own right and it’s JP McManus who may hold the key once again in this division.

Having had the likes of Epatante and Buveur D’Air in recent times, both Champion Hurdle winners, he knows a good one so it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on No Ordinary Joe.

No Ordinary Joe is trained by Nicky Henderson, as were the aforementioned pair of champions, and while he is coming from a lower base, he could yet be something very good in this sphere.

After a decent fourth on his hurdling bow, he’s won two egg and spoon races very easily in preparation for what’s to come this season and that has perhaps looked after his handicap mark somewhat, a mark that appears not to represent his true ability which presents us with a betting opportunity.

He gets the call here, though challengers should be many including Tritonic, Cormier and JP’s other runner Camprond among others. West Cork is also worth watching after nearly two years off the track.

3.30 (Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – I LIKE TO MOVE IT

Unfortunately, we have another four-runner event here and that’s a great shame. Given the level of this race (Grade 2) and the fact that, as the name suggests, it is a recognised trial for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, we could have expected plenty more runners.

That said, this is a winter game so the good ground may have accounted for a few potential candidates, while at £28,000 to the winner we can’t call the event particularly rich either which is something that needs to be addressed.

What we’d like to see in that case is an authoritative winner, one that can throw their hat into the ring for March and the most likely horse to do it is I Like To Move It for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

His two hurdle successes so far have been achieved without much fuss and he accounted for Tritonic last time who was a strong fancy for the Triumph Hurdle last year and is in with a shout on this card in the Greatwood Hurdle. Olly Murphy’s Washington is next on the list.

4.00 (Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – TIMEFORATUNE

We finish with another bumper race, and another good one at that with this event more than likely to live up to its Listed status.

Aucunrisque is a strong contender, as is Flying Sara on what we know so far, while having had only one run there could be lots to come from Nicky Martin’s Leading Choice and that one should be watched in the betting throughout Sunday.

The boring but safe choice however is Timeforatune. The likely market leader, Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old is two from two now and has so far reached a level just above that of those in opposition here.


Friday 12 November 2021

November Meeting Day Two: Saturday 13th November 2021 - Hobbs Star to Grab Paddy Power Glory

Day two of the November meeting is a cracker. The highlight of Saturday afternoon is the Paddy Power Gold Cup, while some exciting young chasers and juvenile hurdlers are also in action as their trainers have an eye on the Festival in March.

12.30 (Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2) – MAGISTRATO

Known as the Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle, this race is a natural step for these three-year-olds en route to the Triumph Hurdle in March.

Naturally with these types there isn’t a great deal of form to go on, but the form we have seen points very much to Magistrato being the best of this particular bunch.

He won ever so easily at Chepstow on his British debut for Paul Nicholls and he reached a similar level when winning in France. He handled good racing ground last time so shouldn’t be finding things too quick here either.

At a nice price his main rival may be Caramelised of the Alan King yard. He’d be shorter in the betting had it not been for his loss last time out, which doesn’t take anything away from his overall ability.

1.05 (Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase – Class 3) – STRICTLYADANCER

While Mindsmadeup and Another Venture also appear to have chances, it looks tight to us between Strictlyadancer, Minella Encore and Opposites Attract for the win with the first named just preferred.

Christian Williams’ seven-year-old gelding won very nicely over this course and distance last month, doing so in the style of a horse who could go on to achieve plenty more than the 5lb rise he’s been handed in the ratings.

He is a solid player here, as is Minella Encore who also won last time out for Dr Richard Newland while Opposites Attract has been off the track since April but has a generally progressive profile.

1.40 (November Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – THIRD TIME LUCKI

A small but select field for this high-quality novices’ chase, one in which the favourite genuinely stands out. That favourite is Third Time Lucki, a winner on his chase debut for Dan Skelton.

The six-year-old was a good hurdler too, he ran sixth in the County Hurdle back in March, but the bigger obstacles look as though they suit his style perfectly.

Sent off favourite around here last month, he dispatched his four rivals with the minimum of fuss under Harry Skelton, ultimately winning by 8½ lengths but that margin could have been much wider.

Mick Pastor has been kept busy by Paul Nicholls and could prove to be the main danger if remaining in good form, while Captain Tom Cat beat Mick Pastor last time but at these weights will need to improve a wee bit now.

2.15 (Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – ZANZA

Another good renewal of this usually enthralling 2½-mile handicap chase.

Fascinating candidates include the 1-2-3 from last year, Coole Cody, Spiritofthegames and Al Dancer, along with one-time Arkle hope Lalor who now tops the market having been moved to Paul Nicholls’ yard.

There’s been some strong money for Protektorat this week for the Skelton team, which is no surprise, while Brian Ellison’s Nietzsche and Philip Hobbs’ Dostal Phil are also not out of this.

It’s Hobbs’ other hope that gets the nod however – Zanza. After a good start to chasing, he had bad luck in running three times in a row. He did run on nicely for third in the Haldon Gold Cup last time out however so he’s fit, in form and capable of much more than his handicap mark.

2.50 (Handicap Hurdle – Listed Race) – PROSCHEMA

Sporting John is very interesting here going back over hurdles, while Dragon Bones and Ballymillsy are no forlorn hopes.

Right from his Flat racing days however, it’s always been felt that there is some real talent in Proschema and he can land this on just his second try over three miles.

He was second to Indefatigable, fine form indeed, and that was in Grade 2 company. Paul Webber is now looking at Grade 1 races for his mare, and it’s easy to envisage the Skelton team doing the same with this chap in good time making this a good opportunity at Listed level.

3.25 (Intermediate Handicap Hurdle – Class 3) – UNEXPECTED PARTY

This is a competitive looking handicap hurdle over 2 miles, 5 furlongs and it’s one in which it could prove to be fruitful to side with Dan and Harry Skelton once again.

Their Unexpected Party, challenging Mackelduff for favouritism going into the weekend, won very easily over this trip up at Wetherby and looks the type to really move on and up from here.

In his short career so far he has already shown a liking for good and good to soft ground, so there should be no worries about underfoot conditions, while even having moved from 109 to 120 in the handicap means little given the form he’s shown – he’s better than that.

Benson could yet prove to be the one to give him most to do. A Listed handicap hurdle winner last winter, his form is solid but was achieved on heavier ground. Gowel Road was the other horse taken into consideration.

3.55 (Mares’ Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – BONTTAY

We’re backing Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan once again in the last, as their Bonttay looks the most likely winner of the mares’ bumper.

The four-year-old got her career underway with a win at Market Rasen in the summer, before scoring again around here last month at a huge 22/1.

She clearly has plenty of ability and no doubt a lot of improvement to come from where she is now, so gets the nod to land the closer.

In behind we liked the look of both Leading Theatre and Where’s Maud Gone who can both go well also.

November Meeting Day One: Friday 12th November 2021 - Nicholls to Land First Ballymore

We kick off three days of terrific action at the November Meeting on Friday, as the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle highlights a good-quality card.

Bigger races are still to come over the weekend, including the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Greatwood Hurdle, but for now we have a selection in all six of Friday’s races.

1.10 (Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – Class 3) – NEON MOON

We kick off with what looks like an incredibly tight, competitive handicap hurdle for the conditional jockeys. 20 runners go to post for this event over 2m5f, but a few of them do stand out against the field.

Captain Blackpearl may yet improve for Dr Richard Newland having had a breathing operation, while there is little to choose between Art Approval (Fergal O’Brien), Skatman (Paul Nicholls) and An Tailliur (Jonjo O’Neill). Looking arguably the best value however is Neon Moon for the David Pipe team.

Only a five-year-old and with plenty of improvement to come, he opened up at more than double the price of market leader Skatman but has all the right attributes to be able to land this race.

Having had a win op of his own, Neon Moon improved greatly on his second hurdle start back in March and his handicap mark now looks lenient.

1.45 (Handicap Chase – Class 2) – KAP AUTEUIL

It’ll be all about speed if the rain stays away for this two-mile handicap chase around the Old Course.

Paul Nicholls has another favourite here in Magic Saint, but one could argue that he has an ever so slightly regressive profile and so while he can still put in a big run, backing him off topweight is not advised.

Sam Thomas’ Stolen Silver perhaps has a better shout having beaten two rivals very easily four weeks ago. He and Aintree’s Red Rum Handicap Chase winner Editeur Du Gite have sold chances, but they may both be vulnerable against Kap Auteuil, now on a five-timer.

Toby Lawes’ runner has been winning, mostly easily, and going up in the handicap appropriately but there’s a strong suspicion that he’s not done yet and his speed between the fences could make the difference here. Hatcher is also worth considering.

2.20 (Novices’ Chase – Class 2) – GIN ON LIME

A deeply disappoint field of two will take part in this race. After only three were initially declared, Fancy Foundations has come out to leave chase debutant My Drogo to face the mare Gin On Lime only.

That said, it’s disappointing in quantity only with both of these young chasers likely to go on and reach a very good level this season.

Gin On Lime is favoured as the outsider of the pair, purely on the grounds of value. So often in such races the long odds-on favourite cannot perform to expectation, usually because of a lack of pace.

If My Drogo happens to front-run things may be different, but as he’s used to stalking it may well be that Gin On Lime can do her own thing up front and could just kick away from a slow pace. At least, that’s the thinking.

2.55 (Cross Country Handicap Chase – Class 2) – BACK ON THE LASH

Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead may well win the dual for us in the previous race, but we’re going against their likely market leader around the cross-country course.

Balko Des Flos is indeed a top challenger, as is Talkischeap despite some recent pull-ups, but the one we like best of all is the latter’s stable companion Back On The Lash, a horse the name of which will resonate with many a post-lockdown visitor to the track.

Back On The Lash has time on his side as a seven-year-old and seems to really want a trip. If that turns out to be true, then over this three-and-a-quarter miles he can reach new heights now under jockey Sean Bowen.

He’s not badly priced either and so is given the nod, although others including Alpha Des Obeaux, Freewheelin Dylan and Plan Of Attack can also have a major say in the contest.

3.30 (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – GELINO BELLO

Other than My Drogo, two horses in this Grade 2 contest will already be in some notebooks with the upcoming Cheltenham Festival in mind and so we watch with great interest to see how Gelino Bello and Off Your Rocco get on around here.

The latter has to carry a 5lb penalty for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, but comes into this race in great form after wins at Listowel and Limerick.

Gelino Bello, representing Paul Nicholls who has not managed to win a race known as the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle since its inception in 1996, can get the job done though and is favoured.

He was mightily impressive at Aintree last month on his first outing over hurdles, and while there isn’t much yet to back up the form of the race, it seems to be more than reliable and he put that race to bed with the minimum of fuss.

Blazing Khal and Current Mood are probably best of the rest, but they’ll have to suddenly improve plenty to mix it with the big two you’d feel.

4.00 (Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – Class 3) – CITY DERBY

At around 7/1 the field on the first show this race has looked very tricky to solve, but there are variables to take into consideration that may just give us a heads-up.

As we’ve mentioned plenty of times before, Fergal O’Brien does very well here and the O’Brien-McPherson Racing team are beginning to scale new heights.

It could be prevalent then that they have a solid third-favourite here in the shape of Samba Dancer. A winner of all three of his most recent runs, he comes into the race in sparkling form and has impressive numbers to back him up in terms of speed etc.

Ahead of him in the pecking order however appears to be City Derby, the choice of Paddy Brennan, who might just prove to be a step ahead of the handicapper.