Inside today’s main piece you can ready my thoughts on the four races from Cheltenham on ITV this afternoon.
Cheltenham’s November Meeting is my favourite pre-Christmas jumps meeting. Three days of high quality action at jump racing headquarters gets my juices flowing and hopefully it does you.
There’s only one fly in the ointment that can spoil some great action. It’s our old friend low sun. Last year’s Sunday’s big betting race the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle was spoilt with three of the eight hurdles being omitted due to that fiery ball in the sky.
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Fingers crossed the weather forecasts are correct as they are predicting light rain and cloud skies for Saturday & Sunday. 😊. Although Friday does look a mostly sunny day.
Cheltenham November Meeting – Day 1
It was soft, good to soft in places at Cheltenham on Wednesday with some light rain forecast for Thursday.
It’s a six race card at Cheltenham with all the action getting underway at 1:10 with a conditional jockey’s handicap hurdle.
1:45 – Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase (Class 2) – 2m
The first of the four races being covered by ITV this afternoon. Calico gave Jonbon a scare in a Grade 2 at Warwick in February before going onto win a Class 2 handicap at Doncaster the following month. Looked booked for a solid second behind Jonbon when falling at the last in a Grade 1 at Aintree. Definite chance but better ground and flatter track may suit the 7-year-old better.
Triple Trade ended last season with wins at Wincanton and Kempton and started the campaign with an excellent 2 length 2nd of 11 to Dancing On My Own here last month. Shaped like he needed a return to further that day, but soft ground will at least bring his stamina into play.
Coastguard Station is a useful handicap chaser on his day and there was plenty to like about his seasonal return 3rd of 7 over hurdles at Wetherby last month. He failed to stay 2m 4f on his last start over fences at Uttoxeter in May, but this is his trip and he’s not of this.
Ballybreeze is arguably the most interesting of the 11 runners. He looked set for a good season when winning at Chepstow on his chase debut/seasonal reappearance last October. Found the Arkle Novices’ Chase to hot on his next start but still held every chance when falling three out at Market Rasen in April. Same mark on seasonal return and is open to more improvement on just fourth start over fences.
2:20 – SSS Super Alloys Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices' Chase (Grade 2) – 2m
JPR One a useful novice hurdler last season winning three times. He took his form to a new level when beating two rivals on chase debut at Newton Abbot 27 days ago. Capable of better over the larger obstacles and can win this. His biggest rival looks to be Irish challenger Mighty Tom. A useful handicap hurdler he finished runner-up on his chase debut in a Grade 3 at Cork 12 days ago. There could be more to come from him over the larger obstacles.
2:55 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (Class 2) – 3m 5 ½ f
Delta Work is a dual Cross Country Chase winner at the Cheltenham Festival who battled on to beat stablemate Galvin here in March. Likely needed last month’s seasonal reappearance behind Minella Indo at Punchestown. This is a handicap though and he must give weight to all bar his stablemate Galvin. Galvin goes well fresh so lack of a recent run shouldn’t be an issue and with a 7lb amateur in the saddle is weighted to finish closer to Delta Work here.
Back on the Lash has won the last two running of this race. And he's now 2lb lower than for the last of those successes. Pulled up behind Delta Work in the Cross Country Chase here in March and failed to complete on seasonal return at Exeter 24 days ago. Hopes are pinned on a return to the this fences reviving the 9-year-old. If they do, he’s handicapped to go close.
Diesel D'Allier won this race in 2019 when trained in France. He was a 1 ¾ length 3rd of 13 to Back on The Lash in 2021 for his present trainer. Before going to win the Cross Country Handicap at the following month. He was below par on two starts last season including this race. Had a spin over hurdles at Worcester on his return last month. If the 9-year-old is back to something like his best he’s weighted to go close.
3:30 – Trustatrader Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Hyde Novices' Hurdle) – 2m 5f
Captain Teague, third in the Champion Bumper at the Festival in March, made a winning start over hurdles in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices' Hurdle (2m 3 ½ f) at Chepstow last month. Looked a high class recruit to the novice hurdle ranks at Chepstow. The further they went the better the 5-year-old looked. Trainer Paul Nicholls won this race last year with Hermes Allen and has a great chance here.
His nearest rivals in the early bird betting are Irish challengers Kinbara and The Big Doyen. The first named is has won both starts over hurdles and is capable of more progression. The Big Doyen won a Tipperary maiden and Galway novice in the summer. However, he had his limitations exposed when runner-up to Willie Mullins novice in a Listed race at Limerick 27 days ago. On the plus side trainer Peter Fahey did win this in 2016. Another Irish runner Sequestered has two of his four starts over hurdles. He’s worth his place in Graded company and can’t be totally discounted.
If Captain Teague can’t win this, it’s going to be tough for the British trained novice hurdles this winter.
JPR One is my idea of the most likely winner on the card provided there’s enough juice in the ground. Although at 6/4 he’s not the most exciting of selections price wise. Captain Teague is even shorter, but I will be surprised if he can’t land the Grade 2 novice hurdle.
I have selections in all four of the handicap races. I don’t normally have a bet in the Cross Country races but provided its soft enough I’m happy to roll back the years with 2019 winner Diesel D'Allier. That said It will to very small stakes.
2:55 – Diesel D'Allier – 7/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Friday bets.