With the festival long gone and the flat season now fully underway, The April Meeting at Cheltenham provides jump racing fans with some good betting opportunities.
Seven races are planned in for Wednesday and Thursday, beginning with a competitive handicap hurdle.
1.30 (Handicap Hurdle – Class 2) – CAPTAIN MORGS
Although the likely market leader, Evan Williams’ Bold Plan probably needs to go on again to figure in this company, though of course that remains possible.
Champagne Well would be a popular winner for Fergal O’Brien too, but the three to concentrate on may well be Whatsupwithyou, Mongol Emperor and Captain Morgs.
Ben Pauling’s Whatsupwithyou is well fancied this week, but he hasn’t won in eleven hurdle starts since his successful debut in December 2019 and you could argue he’s been regressing.
Mongol Emperor has a major shout for the Neil Mulholland yard and he’s most certainly going the other way. Two wins last March have been followed up this year by a fair fourth at Fontwell and a runner-up effort at Doncaster. He may be ready to win now.
Six-year-old Captain Morgs is in here for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville however and he is the selection. His Ascot win and second at Newbury in November stand out for us and he has more to offer yet.
2.05 (Silver Trophy Handicap Chase – Grade 2) – STOLEN SILVER
The feature race of the day is this high-class two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase.
There are plenty in with chances on the book, good old stick Simply The Betts being a strong contender for title-chasing trainer Paul Nicholls and Manofthemoutain looking like one who may get back on track for Emma Levelle.
The one we liked best of all however was Stolen Silver, trained by up-and-coming handler Sam Thomas and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies.
Stolen Silver has been highly tried this season and so his basic form figures don’t show the truth at a glance, which is that he has carried on improving during the whole term.
He was beaten 8¼ lengths around here at the Cheltenham Festival, but its likely the softer ground was against him that day. Go back to November when he raced on good ground here and you’ll find a much better performance.
Now that he has his ground, he can show truly how far he’s come this year and can get the job done.
2.40 (Novices’ Hurdle – Class 2) – CALL OF THE WILD
If we were to go on solid, proven form then we probably couldn’t look beyond Gary Moore’s Royaume Uni or Fergal O’Brien’s Pull Again Green.
They are rated 131 and 130 respectively, but Call Of The Wild has also got to the 130-mark effortlessly and looks sure to improve past his main rivals now.
He last ran 40 days ago and we can assume he’s a good bit better than when we last saw him winning at Doncaster. Call Of The Wild represents JP McManus, Alan King and Tom Cannon and is bound to be popular on track.
3.15 (Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase – Class 3) – MINT CONDITION
Just the six novices line up for this race, but there is enough quality on show to make it very competitive.
Brother Pat travels down from Cheshire for the race and represents Donald McCain who has had an excellent season, while Big Nasty can go well for the Martin Keighley stable.
The one for money has been Olly Murphy’s Champagnesuperover. The seven-year-old is a last-time-out winner, though that was achieved against just one rival and he has already had five goes over fences.
The one with more scope, arguably at least, is Jennie Candlish’s Mint Condition and back on quicker ground he could be the one to concentrate on even at the top of the weights.
3.50 (Handicap Chase – Class 2) – MISTER MALARKY
Despite the drying ground, the three miles and two furlongs of the New Course here will take some getting one would think, with experience counting for plenty.
Chambard is ten years old now and comes into this race on a four-timer, so is seemingly the ideal type for Venetia Williams, while he is being challenged for favouritism by the younger Undersupervision for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
Both have a chance, but we like Mister Malarky. A chase winner in the past at Ascot, Kempton and Newbury, the nine-year-old has everything in his locker needed to go well in this race and may win it for Richard Bandey and Harry Bannister.
4.25 (Handicap Hurdle – Class 2) – LAST ROYAL
There are some really interesting types on show for this three-mile hurdle race.
Wbee hasn’t been seen since last August but has won four in a row, Haul Away has won three of his last 5 for Nicky Henderson and Jesuitique has a very similar record for Dr Richard Newland. Keiran Burke’s Last Royal though is on a good upward trajectory and can be chanced to win this contest.
His only failure, if we can even call it that, was when he was fifth at Taunton in December. Before that he was second and third on his first two hurdle starts before falling three out when pressing the leader on this third start.
After Taunton he was second at Exeter before romping home last time out at Wincanton as an odds-on favourite. He’s only gone up a few pounds in the handicap and looks well treated now.
5.00 (Handicap Hurdle – Class 2) – HERBIERS
The finale is for conditional and amateur riders only but there are some good jockeys and horses on show for sure.
Lord Of Cheshire is on a hat-trick for Nigel Twiston-Davies, Valentino Dancer is in good form for the Fergal O’Brien yard, Rock Legend is clear favourite for Dan Skelton and Chris Gordon’s Pasvolsky is way overpriced.
Our choice is Herbiers, trained by Oliver Greenall and ridden by Toby Wynne.
Wynne claims 7lbs in this and assuming no mistakes, he should get a good ride round the two-mile, one-furlong trip on a five-year-old who wasn’t great last time at the festival, but who has previously shown plenty of form that would see him go close in a race of this nature.