Daily Punt Home - Cheltenham November Meeting – Friday

Cheltenham November Meeting – Friday

Good morning all,

By the time you read this I'll be somewhere on the M42, quite possibly in a traffic jam, but well on the way to Cheltenham. I'm really looking forward to it and I'll report back with the best of the action next week.

In the meantime, my thoughts on today's card, which looks more of a watching than a punting card. Good luck over the weekend!

1.10 Cheltenham 

For all that you get a big field in this, the winners recently tend to come from a big yard with one towards the front of the market, and with that both Skatman and Captain Blackpearl are worth a look. 

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The former is unexposed and has had his Newton Abbot form boosted twice, with runner-up Yggsdasil a winner over fences at Bangor (off 114) on Thursday and third home Opening Bid a ready winner of a handicap off 113 at Warwick last week. 

All that means a mark of 122 may well underestimate him here, given the ease of his win, and a step back up in trip can only be in his favour. 

Captain Blackpearl has his first start for Dr Newland (same owners) and looks to be taking advantage of a lower hurdles mark; his jumping over fences wasn’t great, but interestingly has had wind surgery, which he won after for his previous yard. 

1.45 Cheltenham 

A lot of front runners/pace pressers here, and something’s got to give. 

I was half-tempted by Hatcher, who often finds little off the bridle but didn’t run at all badly here at the Showcase meeting, and makes a quick reappearance after finishing last of six in the Elite Hurdle at the weekend, understandably outclassed. He was, at his peak over hurdles, a horse that thrived on his racing and I don’t think a quick turnaround will be a problem. 

Magic Saint’s last two wins have both come on his second start of the season, so with that in mind you can expect him to improve plenty on his Wetherby reappearance, and taking Angus Cheleda’s allowance into consideration, he’s on a winning mark, despite a welter burden of 12-1. 

Bun Doran has enough good efforts around Cheltenham to give him a chance, and he used to go well fresh. Go back far enough and he’s very well handicapped with Magic Saint, and the time to catch one of Tom George’s is often after a wind operation, but I do wonder whether he’s just fully on the downward slide these days, as there was little to cheer last year. 

I’m a big fan of Stolen Silver but he was gifted it at Market Rasen, and he won’t get the same luxury of an easy lead here. He looks short enough. Magic Saint gets the vote. 

2.55 Cheltenham

Cup of tea time? Not likely….

I love the X-Country, and after Kingswell Theatre last year I’m hoping to find the winner again. I’d say this, despite the numbers, is arguably a trickier race to solve than last year, with a few XC regulars taking on some first-timers that could take to it, or hate it. 

Of the regulars then it’s Potters Corner I like. For all that his form, since his 2019 Welsh National win, reads pretty poorly there are ready excuses for most of those runs (two of them over hurdles, didn’t take to Aintree, would have needed latest run after absence) and it’s worth remembering he was third in this last year from an 11lb higher mark. I was a bit worried about the ground, but it was genuinely good ground last year and it ought not be any quicker this, so he should handle it. I can see him bouncing back to something like his better form here. 

You can make very easy cases for the Irish horses and Talkischeap makes his debut for Martin Keighley, who knows what it takes to get a horse to win around here (the wonderful Any Currency, another old favourite) but if there’s extra places on offer I’ll not be able to resist a small each-way go on Friends Don’t Ask. 

He seems to have been around forever but is only six, and what he does, and does well, is stay all day on good ground. He’s 21lb out of the handicap and on that has no chance, but I’ll remind you Kingswell Theatre won from over a stone out of the handicap last year. This is more about a horse’s run style than mark, and Friends Don’t Ask’s free-going and bold-jumping style should see him in the front rank throughout. If he takes to it, he could go well at a big price. 

4.00 Cheltenham 

33-1 pokes have won this for the last two years, so don’t be afraid to take a couple of swings at it if you fancy a few at big prices!

I wondered if they might go back over hurdles with The Swagman after his second at Nottingham last time, and so it has proved. The plus points with The Swagman (who was originally with Aidan O’Brien, but never raced for him) are his smart bumper form, which makes him look well handicapped here, and the fact that his last two runs would see him a lot fitter after a long absence, but his head carriage wasn’t great at Nottingham and that’s a worry. Still, connections clearly feel there’s something to be gained bringing him back from a two-year absence and if he can stop stargazing, he’s not without a chance. 

Fergal O’Brien runs four to muddy the waters, and it’s very easy to make a case for all of them, but of them I just prefer the in-form Samba Dancer, despite the fact the handicapper keeps asking him for more. 

Brorson is a horse I like physically and he made a good first of it here at the Showcase meeting, trying to help make all and only finding plenty for pressure once headed. It’s hard to quantify that form at present – the favourite won, but there was an unconsidered 80-1 shot in third – however, he does seem to be improving. 

Kalyptra is another the market will probably ignore, but he’s done little wrong in three hurdles starts and together with winner Mon Frere, pulled fifty lengths clear of the rest at Wincanton last time. A mark of 108 on that looks perfectly fair for his handicap debut. 

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Today's selection – Friends Don't Ask (e/w) 2.55 Cheltenham

Good luck with all your bets today,


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