Inside today’s main piece I begin my look back at Cheltenham’s November meeting.
Not sure about anyone else but I was slightly underwhelmed by Cheltenham’s November Meeting.
It was good ground at Cheltenham on Saturday, and it seemed almost bowling green like to me. It was certainly no excuses ground. However, I much prefer to see soft in the going description but that’s me.
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As impressive as some of the winners over the last three days have been. Will those performances be repeated at the festival on different ground? Conversely horses beaten on the ground could well overturn the weekend's form on more suitable going.
Ga Law Lands Paddy Power
It was a solid if hardly stellar renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup. That said race produced an exciting finish with Ga Law just getting the better of French Dynamo on the run in. When the latter took it up two, I thought he would go onto win. However, he made a slight mistake at the last and the early strong pace enabled the winner to wear him down close to home.
Ga Law actually didn’t jump as well as the runner-up so all credit to the winner. Unlucky in the Old Roan Chase after a mammoth layoff. I feared he might “bounce” after such a good effort last time, but he didn’t. He should stay further than 2m 4f and over a longer distance he may jump better too.
Midnight River was doing his best work at the finish and grabbed third from Il Ridoto who had made bad a mistake at the last. The third wasn’t inconvenienced by the good ground but might have preferred it a bit softer. He shaped like 2m 4f is a minimum trip for him and he’s worth a try over further.
Banbridge lays down novice chase marker
Banbridge proved too strong for Tommy’s Oscar in the Grade 2 Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices' Chase. The 6-year-old who had won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4 ½ f showed his versatility trip wise by winning this 2m contest. I liked the way he jumped his fences, attacking them with verve. Ground no worse than good to soft suits him well and I don’t think we’ll be seeing him on deep winter ground. He clearly acts well at Cheltenham and looks like he can be competitive in the best novice chase company when gets his ground.
I Like To Move It lives up to his name
It looked like a competitive renewal of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. Sadly the ‘old enemy’ of winter jump racing low sun struck. The first and last hurdles were omitted which meant just five hurdles were jumped. Personally, I wasn’t too concerned that Sunday’s selection I Like To Move It had less than the allotted hurdles to jump.
Sam Twiston-Davies gave I Like To Move It a very aggressive ride. Always up in a prominent position. He was two lengths ahead coming down the hill. Coming into the straight Gin Coco was travelling powerfully on the leaders outside. However, inside the final furlong I Like To Move It found plenty for his jockey’s urgings for a great win under top-weight of 12-00. Winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies talked ambitiously about the Champion Hurdle after the winners likeable performance and why not he likes the track that’s for sure.
The front two pulled well clear of the third Harbour Lake. I think the form of the race will work out well. The runner-up has a decent two mile handicap hurdle in him, and the third Harbour Lake just lacked the pace of the first two home. More ease in the ground and return to further can see the Alan King trained 6-year-old land a decent pot this season.
Cheltenham November Meeting Verdict:
Ga Law was a gutsy winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup despite not jumping brilliantly. However, the performance of Saturday came from Banbridge in the Grade 2 Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase. Not far behind Banbridge was Queens Gamble performance in winning the Listed mares’ bumper that concluded the Saturday card.
The Sunday highlight has to be I Like To Move It’s win in the Greatwood Hurdle. It was an excellent weight carrying performance by the winner who deserves a tilt at Grade 1 company.
The lowlight of the meeting was Nube Negra beating two rivals in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase. It’s not the winners fault. The defection of Edwardstone on account of the drying ground meant it was always going to be a stroll around Prestbury Park for the Dan Skelton trained 8-year-old. The small field wasn’t surprisingly really given we had the Haldon Gold Cup the previous week. There are just too many options for a small pool of horses. None of that will concern connections of Nube Negra as they picked up a cool £56,950 for a schooling exercise. Nice work, if you can get it.
In tomorrow’s column I will have a couple of horses for the tracker from the weekend’s action at Cheltenham.
I Like To Move It’s win yesterday meant four winning naps last week. Which I have to say is rather pleasing. There won’t be a 17/2 winning nap on Monday that’s for sure. As today’s fancies are all short odds.
Monday’s racing can be described as low key. For today’s selection I have gone for the likely biggest price of my Monday fancies.
2:30 – Representing Bob was a consistent performer winning three of his five starts over fences last season. The 6-year-old put in an encouraging effort last month on his return from a 9 month absence when a 15 length 2nd of 8 to the improving Tea For Free who won again at Uttoxeter on Saturday. His biggest rival could be chase debutant Royal Lake. He had looked slow on his four starts over hurdles last season. So, fences and step up to 3m threaten to unlock some improvement in the 6-year-old who hails from a yard who had three winners at the weekend.
2:30 – Representing Bob – 9/2 – Gen.
Good luck with your Monday bets.