The December meeting at Cheltenham takes centre-stage on ITV racing over the next couple of days and we start with Friday’s card that features a Cross Country handicap and another couple of competitive handicaps. We also have a 3m handicap hurdle from Bangor thrown in for good mesure.
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Fontaine Collonges has previously met Rose of Arcadia when they were second and third at Wincanton 12 months ago. Venetia Williams’ mare has done well over fences since, winning at Warwick, beating Precious Eleanor in the process. On the revised terms, it’s hard to see Precious Eleanor turning the tables on Fontaine Collonges now.
ROSE OF ARCADIA won a point-to-point and has always looked a chaser in the making. Her jumping must be taken on trust, but she could be quite well handicapped and she gets the nod.
David Pipe’s runner was on a real roll in selling and claiming hurdles, and then ran very well at Cheltenham in a Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. A reproduction of that run with the same jockey aboard should see PAROCOLOR win again now.
Enrilo still seemed to be going quite well in the Ladbroke Chase at Newbury when he fell. He has the form in the book from Sandown when winning the 365 Chase over 3m 4f before being demoted to third, but the ground is the worry. He prefers a sound surface and the more rain, the lesser his chance.
Former Gold Cup contender Santini has changed stable from Nicky Henderson’s yard and is a fascinating runner for Polly Grundy. He acts on the track and may be underestimated in the market. Jonjo O’Neill’s Quarenta won a decent race at Ascot this time last year, and this could be the time to catch him again off a good mark to hit the places.
However, The Irish challenger MISTER FOGPATCHES is more versatile regarding ground conditions and is proven over these marathon trips. He ran a good race to be third to Run Wild Fred in the Troytown Chase at Navan last time and, while his win record isn’t great, he is always on the premises over these staying trips.
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Back on The Lash was a good winner at the Paddy Power meeting last month over these fences and aims to follow up again. He’d had a couple of runs though, while DIESEL D’ALLIER – who was making his seasonal bow – travelled well for a long way in that contest before fading to finish third. He should strip fitter now and can reverse the placings to get his head in front this time around.
Philip Hobbs’ SPORTING JOHN won well last time out at this venue and has only been raised 5lbs in the handicap as he looks to put back-to-back wins together since the 2019/20 season. He could still be well handicapped off that new mark and has to be the selection.
Botox Has is an interesting runner, as he has always been highly thought of. He steps right up in trip from his last few efforts to try and unlock that potential.
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