Good morning all,
It's the Saturday of the Cheltenham Meeting, with the Paddy Power Gold Cup taking centre stage at 2.15. The supporting card is a good one as well, and hopefully we'll learn plenty for the future.
Really taken with Blazing Khal yesterday, he looks a proper chaser for the future. Anyway, on to today, and my thoughts on another tricky old day for punters!
1.40 Cheltenham – 2m Novice Chase
No real point in looking at this as a betting contest, with Third Time Lucki a very short price to follow up his impressive win here at the Showcase. I had my doubts about him making the grade over fences, but that was impressive. All I would say is that we did not learn whether he could find a leg if he did make a mistake, as he never touched a twig, and if you’re the sort that likes taking on a short one then that’s really your only hope of getting him beat.
Could be fun trying to guess the forecast though. Not keen on Mick Pastor getting up the hill, even at 2m, and if Captain Tom Cat drops the lot once headed (which he can do) then you’re looking at Sebastopol plodding through them for second place.
2.15 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Gold Cup
Competitive, as you’d expect.
If you took the 12s and 14s Al Dancer last week then we’re in a decent position and for all the reasons outlined last week then he must have a chance here. I was pleased Stolen Silver ran well yesterday as a few from the yard had underperformed in the past week, but it’s game on again now. Handicapped to go well and could even go off favourite.
I covered most of this off last week, in fact, so won’t repeat myself but looking at it now, with fresh eyes, there must be a chance they go a step quick here (Farinet, Coole Cody, quite possibly Simply The Betts and one or two others will help push it along) and as much as his best days are probably behind him, Spiritofthegames has such a good record around here that he might be able to pick up the pieces and finish in the places. He’s drifting to a backable each-way price now, although I’d not put you off a place-only bet on the exchanges either.
2.50 Cheltenham – 3m Handicap Hurdle
Will Proschema get 3m around here? That’s the question. He just about got the trip at Wetherby but they didn’t go that quickly there and it doesn’t really answer whether he truly stays. At the price I’m happy to try and take him on, but maybe get with him later in the season when he drops back in trip.
You’re certain of getting a run for your money with our old friend Kansas City Chief again, although there won’t be any 20-1 after his win here last time out. I genuinely thought he couldn’t win that, but equally thought you would get a place return for your money. However, he jumped superbly, pinging his hurdles and had them all in trouble turning in. With that, another 5lb on his back won’t stop him if he’s in the same form, and clearly he goes well for Victoria Malzard too.
There’s little between Dragon Bones and Onagatheringstorm on their form here last time at the revised weights, so it’s a bit of a surprise the latter is twice the price given they are both unexposed sorts that will improve. Fergal’s having winners for fun again and his horses ran well here yesterday. Tough race and I’ve no strong opinion, but Onagatheringstorm looks the value call.
3.25 Cheltenham – 2m5f Handicap Hurdle
No Quinta Do Mar in the Greatwood, and he doesn't go here either (despite getting an entry) with Fontwell on Sunday looking his port of call.
Two against the field for me, here. Pyramid Place is untried at the trip, and if you’re going on his pedigree alone you’ll be getting yourself in an even bigger twist as the messages are decidedly mixed. However, he was a 2m winner at three, which gives some hope he’ll stay further, and he ran a cracker on his comeback at Chepstow, finishing second to Progressive in what looked a competitive handicap. Milton Harris (trained the winner last year) continues to have plenty of winners and he may well get overlooked here. (Update – he’s also been declared for tomorrow at Fontwell where, ironically, he’ll take on Quinta Do Mar)
Whereas stamina is a question for Pyramid Place, Gowel Road has always looked like a step up in trip this year would suit him well and there’s plenty of stamina in the family. Progressive last year until taken off his feet in the County Hurdle, he looked very much in need of the run at Chepstow, running well until weakening between the last two. He’ll come on plenty for that and I give him a solid chance here.
Today's selection – Gowel Road 3.25 Cheltenham
Good luck with all your bets today,