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Cheltenham November Meeting Notebook

Evening all,

Inside today’s main piece it’s my Cheltenham November Meeting notebook.

I didn’t have many bets last weekend and it was nice to get a handful of decent priced winners with Anightinlambourn and I Like To Move It the best of them. However, it could have been better. I talked myself out of Ga Law in Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup and Does He Know on Sunday. The latter was a galling as he was returned at 6/1 and instead, I went with a dodgy one in The Mighty Don.

I’m sure it won’t be the last time this season that I end up doing what I did this weekend but hopefully it won’t happen too many times.

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A Thousand Tears for ante post punters

Greatwood Hurdle ante post gamble A Thousand Tears 4/1 on the morning of the race drifted out to 29/1 on the Betfair Exchange. It was without doubt the most rancid drift of the day, if not the season. The horse was never travelling from the start and was pulled up at halfway.

Now he didn’t figure on my final short list for the race as his form didn’t merit him being less than 12/1. However, to drift to 29 in a strong market for the big betting race of the day suggests someone was very confident he the horse wouldn’t perform on the day and laid the horse accordingly.

The stewards did investigate the horses running. Here’s their report:

“The performance of THOUSAND TEARS (IRE), which was pulled up, was considered. The representative of Emmet Mullins explained that the gelding had been reluctant to race and effectively pulled himself up on this occasion. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of THOUSAND TEARS (IRE), during routine testing, failed to reveal any abnormalities”.

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Two questions arise for me:

Was there any serious money for Thousand Tears last week or was it a case of bookmakers manipulating the odds in a weak ante post market?

If the bookies really did have liabilities on the horse. Then shouldn’t the BHA be finding out who was laying the horse with such confidence on the exchanges?

I feel sorry for those who did back the horse as they never got a run for their money and even worse, they were never likely too.

Cheltenham November Meeting Notebook

After another dry day and unseasonably warm weather it was back to good ground at Cheltenham last weekend. They even had to water before Sunday’s card but even that didn’t prevent Edwardstone being pulled out of the Shloer Chase.

The drying ground didn’t just effect Cheltenham it also impacted on what looked a good Sunday card at Navan. Former top novice Ferny Hallow was due to return from an 11 month layoff on Sunday. However, although the ground was officially described as yielding it wasn’t deemed suitable for the Willie Mullins trained 7-year-old. Mullins also pulled out useful novice hurdler Flame Bearer who was due to make his stable/seasonal debut in the beginners chase on the card.

We desperately need this week’s forecast rain to arrive to see the jumping stars in action.

In addition to my notes from the three days I have one for the tracker from each day of the meeting.

Friday

Friday’s card didn’t really excite me. The standout performance came from the Paul Nicholls trained Hermes Allen who backed up his Stratford hurdle debut success with comfortable success in the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. It was an impressive success by the 5-year-old and whilst he’s an exciting prospect and can more races.

I think the bookies overreacted in cutting him to as short as 8/1 for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the festival. That’s a ridiculous price and I’m not convinced that the 12/1 available with Coral is much better. He’s been aimed at the Challow Hurdle which the trainer won with Stage Star last year and Bravemansgame in 2020.

Friday Eyecatcher

The race won by Hermes Allen provides the day’s tracker horse.

Weveallbeencaught an Irish point winner won a Newbury bumper on his stable debut for Nigel Twiston-Davies last March. He was chucked into the deep end on his hurdle debut. He didn’t have the pace to handle Hermes Allen over 2m 5f but still put in a promising performance in finishing a 10 ½ length third. Both his point and bumper wins came on soft ground so Friday’s ground probably wouldn’t be what he wants. He’s a future chaser in the making but can win over hurdles when gets more of a stamina test.

Saturday

I discussed Banbridge and Queens Gamble’s wins in Monday’s column. Banbridge will face a much sterner challenge when stepped up to Grade 1 novice chase company. However, he could prove up to the task later in the season. He’s one I really like!

As for Queens Gamble. Will she go over hurdles or will connections keep her to bumpers? I suspect it will be the latter this season as she still has to some filling out to do. The Champion Bumper back here in March would seem a likely target for the mare.

Paddy Power Gold Cup

The Paddy Power Gold Cup should throw up plenty of future winners. Runner-up French Dynamite should remain competitive even with a rise in the weights. He seems likely to come back here for next month’s December Gold Cup.  The third Midnight River could also be heading for that race but he also looks worth a try over 3m.

Nassalam was doing his best work at the finish in sixth. This was a much better effort than his October seasonal reappearance effort at Ascot. He can win a handicap off his present mark but may prove better in smaller fields.

The one to take out of the race could be the eighth home Storm Control. The 9-year-old enjoyed taking the field along and was only headed two out. He stays 3m 2f so this would have been on the short side for him in this company. This should have put him be spot on for his next assignment which is likely to come over further.

Saturday Eyecatcher

Whilst Storm Control is worth adding to the tracker for when stepped up to 3m. He’s not my Saturday eyecatcher.

Perseus Way, a winner on the flat at Newbury on his final start Owen Burrows in September, was having his first start for Garry Moore in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle. Interesting that his new connections threw him in the deep end on Saturday.  His jumping was novicey to say the least, so he did well to finish a 2 ¼ length 2nd of 8 to Scriptwriter. It was no disgrace to lose out to the winner who has already won over hurdles and looks progressive. Perseus Way has got the size to do well over timber and has a good engine. Once he gets hurdling sorted, he’ll win races.

Sunday

I mentioned yesterday that the Greatwood Hurdle form could be worth following going forward. Both the runner-up Gin Coco and third Harbour Lake can win races. The former should remain competitive in valuable two-mile handicap hurdles. Whilst Harbour Lake needs further. Sunday’s eyecatcher doesn’t come from that race though.

Eva’s Oscar, trained by Tim Vaughan, ran a cracker to finish a 1 ¾ length 2nd of 11 to Does He Know in the Jewson Handicap Chase (3m 3 ½ f). He looks a through stayer and on softer ground than he faced on Sunday can win a staying handicap chase.  The 8-year-old pulled up in last season Welsh National and that race could well be on his radar again this year. However, his trainer after the race told the Racing Post that the “Eider Chase would be right up his street”. The Eider may take less winning than a Welsh National and 4m on softish ground could really bring out the best in the gelding.

Tuesday Racing

There are 28 races across Britain & Ireland today only race today. However, there’s only one with more than £10,000 on offer to the winner. That honour goes to the 1m 4 ½ f handicap (3.42) at Newcastle which has £25,000 in guaranteed prize money.

Representing Bob having come under pressure early in the race he stayed on all the way to the line to take second, but he was slightly flattered to finish as close as he did to the winner.

Tuesday Selection:

Not the best of days for solid betting opportunities with those of interest me at short odds. For those looking for a pick

Newcastle

7:15 – Going Underground won over C&D last month and looked unlucky when a ½-length 3rd of 14 back here 11-days ago. Nudged up 2lb but should remain competitive.

Going Underground – 9/4 @ Coral.

Good luck with your Tuesday bets.

John

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