It’s the last Saturday of horse racing action before Christmas, and it’s fair to say there’s plenty to enjoy with no less than seven races on ITV to sit back and enjoy from Cheltenham and Doncaster.
Let’s get straight into it, and the 13:55 at Cheltenham is the big betting handicap chase of the day over an extended 2m4f.
Rather Be was travelling well at the track last time when being brought down four out behind Baron Alco and has every chance of compensation for Nicky Henderson off the same mark of 149. Conditions are ideal for a big run under Jeremiah McGrath.
Next is the 14:30, a Grade 2 novice hurdle over 3m. Aye Aye Charlie has plenty of experience for Fergal O’Brien and must take all the beating with a mark of 145.
He didn’t always jump well when winning an egg and spoon race at Kelso last time, but should still be good enough here.
There’s a Grade 2 hurdle over 2m1f at 15:05. The New One may well win again, but I’ll take a chance with Brain Power who has so much class, but is failing to deliver.
He’s had plenty of operations in his time and the return to hurdling may well suit for Nicky Henderson. This is a horse that works well with Altior at home.
And finally at Cheltenham, a handicap hurdle over an extended 2m4f at 15:40.
Definitelyanoscar won well at Warwick last time for Harry Fry and could be a fast improving mare. Noel Fehily rides and everything is set for a big effort.
Meanwhile, ITV show the 13:35 from Doncaster, a Grade 2 novice chase over 3m. It’s hard to look beyond Rocky’s Treasure here, who has been in splendid form for Kim Bailey this term. Although beaten last time his second to Santini at Newbury was a fine performance.
Next at Doncaster is the 14:45, a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle over an extended 2m. There wasn’t much between Quel Destin and Cracker Factory at Cheltenham last time and there probably won’t be much in it here. I’m going for Quel Destin to confirm the form.
He’s a little warrior for Paul Nicholls.
And finally at Doncaster the 15:20, a handicap chase over 3m. A poor turnout and it gives OO Seven another chance to have a license to thrill.
He’s not badly handicapped and there was a sign at Sandown when he was last seen in April that he still has an engine. Let’s hope we get to see it for Henderson and Aidan Coleman.