Friday, 11 November 2022

November Meeting Day Two: Saturday 12th November 2022 - Midnight to Turn the Lights Out

Day two of the November Meeting is Paddy Power Gold Cup Day. We have a selection in that race, as well as in the other six on what is another fascinating days of racing at the home of National Hunt.

12.35 (Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2) – BLUEKING D’OROUX

How many of these horses make it to the Triumph Hurdle itself is anyone’s guess, but in its own right it is a fascinating juvenile event.

They piece of form coming into the weekend seems to be the Listed juvenile hurdle staged at Wetherby last month.

There, Dan Skelton’s Meydaf got home well to score by three lengths from Tuddenham Green (Alan King), though the winner now carries a 5lb penalty. It’s 50/50 whether or not Sheena West’s Mr Freedom would have won the event, though he ran out two from home.

Those three are at a very similar level at the weights, while War Correspondent and Scriptwriter could be roughly on a par with them too.

Standing out however is another Paul Nicholls recruit from France, Blueking D’Oroux. In a couple of races at Auteil he ran to a better level than anything in this race and can now improve. It’s also true that he reached his level of form despite the heavy ground and not because of it, so he should appreciate conditions here.

1.10 (Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase – Class 3) – VALSHEDA

An interesting race for the amateurs, one in which the Irish challenge may prove to be quite strong.

Henry De Bromhead’s Brave Way should be well backed coming into the race on a hat-trick, while Gordon Elliott’s Punitive and Gavin Cromwell’s Malina Girl are also interesting, especially the last named.

Charlie Longsdon has a solid chance with his race-fit Kelso fourth Castle Robin, but the best of the bunch may prove to be Valsheda.

Carrying the familiar Kelvin-Hughes colours for trainer Nicky Henderson, Valsheda was a gutsy winner last time but he is one that is getting better. His 234 days off the track will have led to plenty of improvement, he’s fresh and he has the form at the weights.

1.45 (Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – PENTLAND HILLS

Higher profile races will be won by 2023 Arkle contenders this season, but this race looks very important too.

It’s a close one to call at first glance. Pentland Hills was given a walkover, Tommy’s Oscar won on debut over fences, Monmiral was classy over hurdles and makes his chasing debut while Banbridge was a comfortable debut chase winner and at five has lots more to come.

Nicky Henderson’s Pentland Hills was a Grade 1 juvenile hurdle winner and was a close second in the Champion Hurdle Trial in 2020.

After a forced absence, he came back with a win on the Flat and was better than before and he could be the best of this bunch now chasing.

2.20 (Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase – Premier Handicap) – MIDNIGHT RIVER

This two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase is as competitive as we’d expect it to be. Familiar Cheltenham runners Coole Cody and Simply The Betts will be popular, while French Dynamite has been very well backed and topweight Mister Fisher can hardly be ruled out.

Stolen Silver could be very well handicapped for Sam Thomas, while similar comments apply to David Pipe’s Umbrigado and Paul Nicholls’ Il Ridoto.

The one we liked best of all was the race-fit Midnight River. Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old has yet to peak as a chaser and after being solid but unspectacular last season looks a very different prospect this.

3/1 for his seasonal reappearance at Stratford, he demolished his opposition to win by an ever so easy 25 lengths, going up only 8lbs in the handicap. He’s a good deal better than that and may land this race before returning in December.

2.55 (Handicap Hurdle – Class 2) – PADLEYOUROWNCANOE

This is a tough race to pick apart and it’s one that may come down to two good value horses, each not seen very often over hurdles in recent times.

Annual Invictus of Chris Gordon’s yard could be better than when last seen over timber, while Padleyourowncanoe very much has the speed between flights needed this time around and gets the vote.

He hasn’t won over hurdles for a little while but is well enough handicapped for the Skeltons, with Shearer and Sidi Ismael also making the shortlist.

3.30 (Intermediate Handicap Hurdle – Class 3) – WISEGUY

This isn’t the sort of race to be dedicated massive stakes to, but there’s enough in the profile of Nicky Henderson’s Wiseguy to think that he has tons of improvement to come this season so gets the nod.

Rated only 119 at present, it would seem obvious that he won’t stay on that mark for very long so is more than likely to be very well handicapped.

When earning that rating, he jumped out to the side a little and looked unfinished but there will have been a lot of work done in the interim. Nico de Boinville takes the ride.

4.05 (Mares’ Open National Hunt Flat Race – Listed Race) – QUEENS GAMBLE

Fergal O’Brien’s Bonttay won three out of three last season, winning at this very meeting before not being seen again.

She may make a good fist of things, while Willie Mullins sends over Williamstowndancer and she will no doubt have her supporters too.

The likely favourite is Nicky Henderson’s Luccia and her winning would be no surprise, but it may pay to go for the value offered by backing Oliver Sherwood’s Queens Gamble instead.

Her debut win was more impressive than that of Luccia, she definitely has the speed for the Old Course on decent ground and although she has only raced once, both horses have been off for over 200 days which is ample time to strengthen and catch up.

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