It’s a busy Saturday on ITV with plenty of Cheltenham clues on offer at the home of the Festival and some decent races at Doncaster to solve.
So let’s get straight to it with the 13.55 at Cheltenham is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase over an extended 2m 4f. This is wide open now and even more so after the cock-up defection of Ridersonthestorm – well done Paddy Power for refunding ante-post bets on that horse.
I’m going to have a few quid each-way quid on GOOD MAN PAT, who ran well on his seasonal debut at Ascot on November 22. He coped with a biggish field well that day and down in trip is sure to stay on strongly in the conditions. He gives the new combination of Alan King and Tom Cannon a big chance.
Next at Cheltenham is the 14.30, a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over 3m. Fergal O’Brien is having a great season and there’s a good chance he can take this with CHAMPAGNE WELL. My selection was second to the exciting Thyme Hill at Cheltenham last time and while this is a major test, he can shape well in an open event.
At 15.05 it’s the International Hurdle over 2m 1f which carries Grade 2 status. The chance of a Champion Hurdle contender to step up to the plate here and most eyes will be on Elixir de Nutz and Pentland Hills, who landed the Triumph Hurdle in March. I will take both on with CALL ME LORD, who looked like a horse gagging to drop back a little in trip at Ascot last time.
The Nicky Henderson-trained challenger travels like a ‘travely thing’ in his races and has plenty of class.
Hard to beat for me.
We round off Cheltenham with a mares’ handicap hurdle over an extended 2m 4f at 15.40. A real tough final event, but I think we will get a good each-way run from SHAMBRA, who is another going to enjoy dropping in distance after a fine effort at Ascot last time. Shambra is trained by Lucy Wadham and ridden by the up-and-coming Maxime Tizzier. Fingers crossed they at least hit the frame.
Over at Doncaster, ITV show the 14.10 a Grade 2 novices’ chase over 3m. Only three runners here, and connections of SAM SPINNER want to get a lead as they believe he’s better from off the pace. However that seems unlikely and I’m just hoping he proves too fast for the others.
Next at Doncaster is the 14.45, a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle over an extended 2m.
Again a small field, and the one I like is NAVAJO PASS for Donald McCain and Brian Hughes. I was at Bangor when he won first time over hurdles and he was not disgraced giving weight away next time at Newcastle. Can only improve.
And finally at Doncaster the 15.20 is a handicap chase over 3m.
Just four runners here, in what is usually a tough event. CLOTH CAP looks the obvious one for me after his fine third at Ascot last time. The distance and trip are no problem for the Jonjo O’Neill-trained runner and jockey Richie McLernon is a plus. Big chance.
You hear me Paddy?
*Prices and runners correct at time of posting