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.