Saturday’s meeting at Cheltenham always has some clues for the Festival in March. And before you ask: What rubbish are you spouting now? – hear me out.
Well, Le Prezien was second in the 2m chase before going on to win the Grand Annual last March. A year earlier Rock The World was unplaced in the same race the year before before winning the 2017 Festival. Tiger Roll finished third in a novice chase last season before winning the Amateur Chase over 4m at the Festival and going on to glory at the Grand National.
It’s a very informative meeting.
Hopefully we can pin-point a few that if they don’t win on Saturday, can still go on to better things next March.
Minella Rocco has been given a chance by the handicapper in Saturday’s opener over 3m 1f. He was second to Sizing John in the 2017 Gold Cup and if he finds anything like his old form, he could carry this lot around here.
He has had a wind operation and that should help him as should the return to nice ground. For Good Measure just edges him in the market on the back of some good novice runs last season, but he lacks a bit of experience. His trainer is in good form though, so he’ll have his supporters.
However, the one I can’t get away from is last year’s winner Cogry. He is roughly around the same handicap mark as 12 months ago and runs his best races. He gets the nod.
The 2m hurdle for four-year-olds at 14.35 boasts past winners like Tiger Roll & Dodging Bullets.
Redicean was very impressive last year in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on good ground, where his jumping improved considerably and was superb. Gumball finished second in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle to We Have A Dream before winning at Ludlow. He should finish in front of Redicean on official ratings with the conditions of the race in his favour.
However if Alan King’s Redicean jumps as well as he did to win the Adonis Hurdle, I think he’ll win.
Foxtail Hill won the 2m Handicap Chase at 15.10 and runs here again off a mark lower than when winning 12 months ago. His form did go to pot afterwards and he had the run of the race back then. Bigmartre in opposition and his trainer thinks he has developed physically over the summer, while Modus is talented but will need to brush up his jumping as they go a stride quicker when racing over two miles.
Foxtail Hill is tough and if allowed a freebie up front, can do exactly the same under Sam Twiston-Davies again.
Theclockisticking is a work in progress but the step up in trip will help him. I am a big fan of his trainer and this horse is worth following in the 3m Handicap Hurdle at 15.45 and finished his race off really well at Chepstow to finish 5th, having got outpaced in a race where lots of winners will come from this season.
I might be mad, but the outsider of the field is worth a little stab each-way. Paddy Brennan rides Milrow who was second in this last year off a similar mark. The trainer has had two winners from 10 runners in the last fortnight, so the 33/1 on offer with Paddy could be worth an interest.
Dinons will be a short price in the 3m Novice Hurdle at 16.20, but will be very hard to beat. A multiple winner already this season, Gordon Elliott looks to have found the perfect race for this horse to extend the winning run.
I said earlier about trying to identify potential Festival horses for next March, well Movewiththetimes is definitely one.
He beat everything bar Ballyandy in the Betfair Hurdle in 2017 but things didn’t go smoothly over fences last season. He has the experience now and his trainer Paul Nicholls loves him. He’s very hopeful this lad can get back on track this season.
I wouldn’t stray too far from the market leaders in the finale at 17.30, with six of the past 10 winners being 5/1 or under. Keep an eye on the betting for strong moves for any of the ex Irish point-to-point horses.