Cheltenham November Meeting Sunday Preview

Al Dancer (copyright JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Horrific weather conditions have battered Cheltenham over the past few days and it’s a credit to the team at the course for any racing actually being on this weekend. Friday was lost due to the weather but the turf was lit up Saturday by some brilliant performances. Thyme Hill won the rescheduled grade two hurdle; Allmankind absolutely hacked up in the juvenile race; Wholestone won the Novices’ Chase; the willing Happy Diva got revenge for last year in the BetVictor Gold Cup and the smiles of amateur jockeys Sam Lee and David Maxwell brightened the dull conditions.

Hopefully we will see some more incredible performances this Sunday. I’ve previewed the card paying extra attention to the races shown on ITV…

12:45- Cheltenham Club Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

I’m going for MC ALPINE in the first. He followed in the smart Abracadabras in October and then was a good second at Wexford. He’s making his handicap debut so is open to more improvement. Could be value at 8s.

13:15- Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase

Cross country chases are always a spectacle and can be a welcome change for a horse who’s bored over the conventional fences. Dawson City, Solstice Star, Rathlin Rose and Rolling Dylan are all trying these obstacles for the first time. Dawson City is a personal favorite of our very own Lois and Polly Grundy’s gelding won the Devon National in February so this kind of test will be right up his street. He was last seen coming fourth to younger horses at this course over regulatory fences. Solstice Star has Sam Twiston-Davies on board and he ran a decent race on seasonal reappearance. Rathlin Rose is well-known for giving amputee Guy Disney two wins at Sandown and he was well-beaten on his seasonal debut. Rolling Dylan wouldn’t be a horse I’d have guessed to be running over these obstacles. He pulled up behind The Conditional when last seen.

Kingswell Theatre won this in 2017 under Tom Scudamore and was then fourth over course and distance in the December. He then came off a 453 day break to be sixth behind Tiger Roll in March this year. Urgent De Gregaine was third, Fact Of The Matter eighth and Tea For Two unseated. Urgent De Gregaine is French trained and has placed twice at the Festival. He’s an eleven year old and the current favorite despite not racing since then. He’s won around here before. The other French horse is Diesel D’Allier. Charlie Deutsch rides this horse, who is yet to run around the Cheltenham Cross Country course. He’s tongue-tied in this but the former is preferred.
Fact Of The Matter was second to Josie’s Orders in this race last year and then won in December. His eighth at the festival wasn’t his true running and the same can be said about his Topham Chase run too. He’s 2lbs lower than then and he can’t be underestimated. Tea For Two is partnered by a very good jockey in Chester Williams and this horse has the class as he won a grade one in April 2017. He’s yet too win since and lacks the old sparkle. Chic Name was seventh to Dawson City in February and ran in the cross-country chase in March 2018, coming fifth, and he didn’t jump badly. He may run better than anticipated.

I think this could be a good opportunity for URGENT DE GREGAINE. To double the number of course victories he has.

Getaway Trump (copyright JTW Equine Images)

13:50- Racing Post Responsible Gambling Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase

A small but select field of four are set to run in this. The top two are Al Dancer and Getaway Trump. These two made their chase debuts over course and distance in October in the same race. They were neck and neck turning in but Al Dancer was driven clear by the recognizable Sam Twiston-Davies drive between the last two and Getaway Trump just could go with him. The latter surrendered second place in the dying strides to Not That Fuisse but Al Dancer has gained a 3lbs penalty for his efforts. On official ratings Getaway Trump is 4lbs superior to Al Dancer and the market reflects this with Paul Nicholls’ horse the 11/8 favourite and Al Dancer at 13/8. I’m a big fan of Getaway Trump; I know someone with a share in him and as an Owners Group owner myself, I obviously want him to do well. However, the ground is testing at Cheltenham and it was on the day in October and it appeared that Getaway Trump didn’t have the necessary acceleration in the mud to get past Al Dancer. Connections have reported that he’ll come on for that but him and Al Dancer have met twice and AL DANCER has come out roughly six lengths superior each time so he is my selection.

This is not a two horse race. Rouge Vif beat Getaway Trump off level weights in a grade two at Kelsi in March and that horse concluded the season when third in a grade one at Aintree. He ran on very well over two miles one on his chase debut and jumped well too. However, he’d prefer better ground. Henry De Bromhead’s mare Put The Kettle On gets an allowance and she’s a three times Chase winner over further. She only went down half a length at Tipperary in a grade three at the start of October and is dropping half a mile in trip to two miles.

Defi Du Seuil (copyright JTW Equine Images)

14:25- Shloer Chase

Once again, this race has attracted a nice field of four runners. Simply Ned was second in this last year and the old boy went on to beat Footpad at Leopardstown in a grade one over Christmas. He may have had some sort of injury since then as we didn’t see him until October when he was fourth at Kelso. He’s a horse who often needs his comeback run and you can never completely rule him out. He’s rated 159 along with Saint Calvados. He was a non runner in the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday in favour of running in this. He ran at this course in October and won a class two handicap on heavy going off 11st12 really smartly. He was all out that day and I think it will have given him a good confidence boost as he followed in Altior and Min on his first season out if novice company. He relishes soft conditions and is actually a really high quality horse. But whether he’s as good as Politologue and Defi Du Seuil, we’ll have to see. Saint Calvados or Politologue will probably bowl along in front.

Paul Nicholls’ grey seems a bit of a handful but he is a classy horse. He won the JLT Melling Chase (grade one) in 2018 but is equally good over two miles as he came to within one and a half lengths of Altior in the Champion Chase. He had a wind op over the summer and he has an official rating of 166, 4lbs higher than Defi Du Seuil. Phillip Hobbs’ JP McManus gelding won by three and a half lengths on his second chase start, beating Topofthegame and Black Op. After that, he came second to Lostintranslation over half a mile further in a grade two. He won the Scilly Isles in February and all three of the finishers have won subsequently. He ran into Lostintranslation in the JLT but they reversed the form and Defi Du Seuil was victorious. He ran at Punchestown in May and was second to the well thought of Chacun Pour Soi. He’s a course and distance winner over hurdles in the Triumph but may need further over fences and not be up to the speedy POLITOLOGUE’s standards.

Monsieur Lecoq (copyright JTW Equine Images)

15:00 Unibet Greatwood Hurdle

Dan Skelton won this in 2016 with the tragically fated North Hill Harvey. He’s got three runners this year- Humble Hero, Mohaayed and Monsieur D’Arque. Mohaayed has top weight and won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 under his pilot Bridget Andrews. He’s won once since in a similar contest at Ascot but looks up against it in the weights. Humble Hero has Bridget’s husband Harry Skelton on board. This horse was with William Haggas on the flat and is a one time hurdle winner. He fell on seasonal debut when probably going backwards. Monsieur D’Arque is making his seasonal debut under William Marshall and has ran just four times, winning once. He’s only five and I still improving. The other Monsieur is MONSIEUR LECOQ. This horse is a really smart one. I backed him a few times last season and he won on heavy at Ludlow in December and won a class two round Sandown in January. After that, he came second to Malaya in the Imperial Cup, with Benny’s Bridge behind. Six days later, he came tenth in the County Hurdle. On seasonal reappearance, he relished testing conditions and won, with Mohaayed behind, at Ffos Las. Conditions look absolutely perfect. Benny’s Bridge returned to winning ways here in October by eight lengths and the yard is going well.

Quel Destin was a very good juvenile last season and managed to make his return a winning one in a decent race at Cheltenham in October. He is only four and has the burden of top weight to contend with. Gumball was in the same position as him twelve months ago after a fruitful juvenile campaign. He couldn’t win over obstacles last year for whatever reason but won three flat races. He came third in a listed hurdle in September and then was ridden to perfection by amateur jockey Ben Jones in a listed hurdle at Ascot, with Grapevine behind. He’s gone up 8lbs for that but amateur jockeys stole the show on Saturday and Jones is going great guns. Connor Brace is a conditional going places and rode Benny’s Bridge to victory last time but rides Grapevine. He shares bottom weight with Dr Mazzaro and is theoretically 3lbs out of the handicap but both are big prices.

Countister and Dame Compagnie are JP McManus representatives. Barry Geraghty rides the latter. She’s been off the track for 577 days but won here over half a mile further when last seen. She won over this trip on debut and she could be one to keep note of once she has a run under her belt. Aidan Coleman rides the second of the Nicky Henderson mares. She was third in the County Hurdle and then 12th in the Grade A Hurdle at Fairyhouse. If she returns to the County Hurdle form she could have a squeak.

Alan King won this in 2017. He’s got Harambe, who was last seen coming seventh to Thyme Hill, who won a grade two on Saturday, in the Persian War. Zanza is from the same yard as Phillip Hobbs and he contested a grade three on testing going in October but pulled up. He won well on better ground last time and that’s what he needs. Quoi De Neuf won on good ground on debut and then came fourth to Alsa Mix in a grade two novices’ hurdle on soft/heavy. He got beat seven lengths by subsequent winner Good Boy Bobby in April and then was second at Chepstow in early October. He’s unexposed and open to improvement. Torcello moved from Andrew McNamara to Sarah Lycett and he completed a treble over the summer but all on soft ground.

15:30 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle

Elixir Du Nutz won this last year and Slate House, who agonizingly fell in the BetVictor Gold Cup, the year before. We have a Royal runner in this race. Pacify has been good fun for the Duchess Of Cornwall this season so far. He was an average horse on the flat and has been well placed since moving to Jamie Snowdon over hurdles. In October, he stepped up to listed company and won well, concluding a five timer. He’s yet to tackle any ground like it and connections will be hoping the ground dries out a bit more. Ecco had a wind op after two sixth place finishes last season. He won at Wincanton and then Ascot by fourteen lengths. The horse he beat at Wincanton has subsequently flopped. He’s rated 1lbs higher than Pacify but Pacify carries 5lbs more.

I’m taking a chance on EDEN DU HOUX. He won two bumpers last season, one of which was a listed race. He ran against IK Brunel at Fontwell on goodish ground and got beat six lengths. Subsequently, IK Brunel didn’t run very well at Cheltenham but that was the ground. Eden De Houx should like this ground and gets a tongue tie to aid his breathing. Hang In There used to be with Mags Mullins and followed in an ill-fated horse I was extremely find of called Castletown Quary. He unseated on first start for Emma Lavelle and then won by seven lengths. Scardura pulled up then fell in a point to point and had one run for Andy Slattery in a maiden. He won on his first start for Neil Mullholland by sixteen lengths to Bathsheba Bay who won recently. He could be anything.

16:00- Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Standard Open NH Flat Race

I’m going with TIME FLIES BY in this. He made very good headway on the closing stages to be driven out to win on debut, for Nicky Henderson, against a strong field. He’s an interesting sort. I’m very disappointed that Plenty In The Tank was a non runner as I think he could’ve threatened this horse.

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