By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)
We have a brilliant three days in store with racing from Cheltenham and this six race card looks very good. The fourth race on the card is over the unique cross-country fences and Tiger Roll, the Grand National winner, comes over from Ireland to run here and Easysland, who won the Cross Country race at the Festival, travels over from France. It will be a very exciting, early-season clash!
13:15 Cheltenham – Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
David Pipe won this last year and he has Induno in this year’s renewal. This horse hasn’t been seen for 323 days and his last run was coming third at 8/13. Previous to this, he won a NH Flat race and then a novices’ hurdle. Talented conditional Fergus Gilliard takes the ride. I think Daniel Sansom is a good jockey and rides Playa Blanca. This five year old has ran fifteen times and had a hattrick of wins during March and then returned with a comfortable success at Kelso in October. Eight days ago, he was second in a similar race to a well-fancied rival. He’s 4lbs higher than his last winning mark at joint top weight. Ben Jones has ridden the horse a few times but rides Silent Assailant for Emma Lavelle. This horse hasn’t been seen for 272 days and hasn’t won a race. He was well-beaten on debut and then came fourth at Doncaster. He did run for another 375 days but stayed on to be fourth. He added another fourth to his form figures next time over three miles. This is over two miles five and his older sister is a dual winner over this kind of trip and is a point to point winner.
Presenting Yeats is a whole stone out of the handicap with Harry Kimber taking off a further 5lbs. This won by a neck at Stratford in August in a NH Flat race. Since then, he’s been well-beaten on four tries over obstacles but his dam did win four races over hurdles. TANGO BOY beat a horse I like on debut but wasn’t seen for a while before his hurdles debut, with a tongue tie on. Subsequently, he was second at Catterick then second over three miles in handicap company, proving he’ll stay this trip. Harry Reed is riding very well at the minute.
13:50 Cheltenham – Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase
Magic Saint will likely head the market and he’s number one on the racecard. He was a four time winner in France and has won twice in the UK from ten starts for Paul Nicholls. He was sixth in the Old Roan when last seen and he may have just needed the run off a break. On The Slopes probably needed the run in a handicap over course and distance last month with Beat The Judge two places ahead and Ballywood and Azzuri in behind. On The Slopes won two good races at Kempton last season. From them, he looks a smart horse. Ballywood has had two starts so far this season and, in the first one, he was second to BEAT THE JUDGE. This horse has been busy over the summer. He was third in a novice chase before winning a novice chase at Newton Abbot. Fifty days later, he won really well at Fontwell before getting beaten eight and three quarter lengths in a really good race. He runs off the same mark as he did then. I think he’ll run well here Azzuri hasn’t won since April 2019 when he won a listed race at Ayr. He’s been well-beaten in all of the starts since. Born Survivor is the first string Dan Skelton runner. He has ran twice in 2020, coming fourth in the Silviniaco Conti at Kempton but then ninth in a listed handicap chase. He’s still 5lbs higher than his last winning mark.
Fanion D’Estruval won three races in France before coming to Venetia Williams’ yard. He won by six lengths easily to a horse who has won subsequently, making him seem a really exciting horse. Connections decided to send him to a grade two novices chase and he finished fifth, a run nothing like his first one in England. It’ll be interesting to see how he runs. Eamon An Cnoic hasn’t won since February 2019. At the backend of that year, he ran two good races but that’s the only ones for a while. Full Glass completes the line-up. This horse is a two times winner in France before coming to Alan King. He was unsuccessful for them and went back to France. Now, he has joined A Sadik’s yard and is only seven so he may have something in the locker.
14:25 Cheltenham – Sss Super Alloys Supports Racing Welfare Novices’ Chase
A small but select field go to post for this race. Number one SOUTHFIELD STONE was a really lovely winner at Cheltenham at the October Meeting. He’d already won a chase before that but put in some lovely jumps. He’s a grade two winner over hurdles and, with Paul Nicholls’ horses running well, you absolutely can’t discount him. He has 11st10 to carry. Protektorat was a smart hurdler, winning a listed race and he placed in a grade two. he won on his first attempt over fences, making all and winning comfortably. He seemed a neat jumper and has the making of a good chaser for a yard in-form. Mossy Fen won a point to point in 2019 and started his hurdle career later that year. He’s a three times winner including a grade two. He was fifth in the Ballymore, which is great form. He ran novicey at Cheltenham on his first chase start, which was kind of disappointing. He’ll have learnt a lot from that. Sam Twiston-Davies is in good form. Paint The Dream will be an outsider. He never runs a bad race but is yet to win a race over the big obstacles. In early October, he was second in a listed race and then second in a beginners chase.
15:00 Cheltenham – Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
What an exciting race! These Cross Country races are always a spectacle but this looks better as Tiger Roll, Easysland and Potters Corner all line up. Tiger Roll is obviously the much-loved Grand National winner. He has won over this course and distance twice and has the heart of a lion as the saying goes. However, his most recent start over jumps was in the Cross Country Race at the Festival where he raced off equal weights with Easysland. EASYSLAND demolished his competition with a slick seventeen length victory and gets 3lbs from Tiger Roll in this race. The only chink in Easysland’s armour could be his jumping as on occasion it is a bit chancy but I can’t see past him. Potters Corner (the Virtual Grand National Winner) was last seen winning the Welsh National over three miles six and a half and he’s a previous winner of the Midland’s National. This will be his first try over these abnormal fences but he’s trained in a unique environment and I look forward to seeing how well he can run.
Vino Royale is Easysland’s stablemate. He’s five from twenty under rules and won over three miles five on his previous start. Last time out, he came second over an Italian Cross Country course. However, he’s fallen six times, which is alarming. He’s only five with a tiny weight. I think King’s Temptation is the value runner in the race. He has been in really good form over the summer with three wins at Uttoxeter. Last time, he was pulled up and the trainer couldn’t offer an explanation other than the ground wasn’t right. All of his best form has come on good ground and he looked excellent schooling. I think he should stay the trip and Kielan Woods is riding very well at the minute and he has plenty of experience hunting. I picked Kielan as my jockey to follow for the season. Check out Kielan and King’s Temptation flying in this tweet below from Ben Case…
Little Bruce won’t have any worries about the trip as he won at three miles six in the North Yorkshire Grand National and was only beaten nineteen lengths over four miles one in the Edinburgh National. His reappearance was by no means sensational. Beau De Brizais is quite a consistent runner. All of his best form has come on goodish ground and he managed to get round the Scottish Grand National over four miles so there might be some stamina there. Kingswell Theatre has ran seven times over this course and distance and won his second attempt in November 2017, when making all. Vivas completes the line-up. He has never won over anything further than two miles four but he has Charlie Deutsch on board who rides these fences well.
15:35 Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Grade Two) (Registered as The Hyde Novices’ Hurdle)
Kim Bailey and David Bass took top honours in the Badger Beers at Wincanton last week and they have DOES HE KNOW favourite for this race. It took him three tries to win over hurdles but he did so very impressively at Ludlow, beating a horse who has placed twice since. Last time, he won impressively over course and distance. He jumped left a little bit but it was overall a professional performance. Two of the other runners won last time too – Grand Mogul and Wild Romance. The latter is the only mare in the race and finished third in a three mile point to point. Early in October, she won a mares’ novices’ hurdle well, showing a good attitude. That was her sole start and the other runners are a bit more experienced. Grand Mogul won a NH Flat race for Gordon Elliot but moved to Nicky Henderson and ran very poor races on both starts last season. Last time, he completely put that behind him to win at Chepstow. Related to grade three winner Brahma Bull, he’s from a great yard but I’m not sure he is the most reliable horse.
The Grand Visir is a Royal Ascot winner and ultra-consistent on the flat. He has ran in three hurdle races and he’s a quirky horse. Fergal O’Brien recently had his fiftieth winner of the season and has Polish in this. He won over hurdles in February and was a decent third at this track in October but didn’t jump well. Petrastar, an ex-flat horse, was three from three before last time. That race was the Persian War when he finished last despite leading the field keenly. He steps up in trip and his jockey Kielan Woods had a 20/1 winner on Thursday. Ballymillsy is yet to win but was third to smart Threeunderthrufive at Lingfield last time out.
16:05 Cheltenham – Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Princess T and Panic Attack are the only two mares in the race. The latter won a listed bumper at Market Rasen on her first start but ran poorly in the Champion Bumper. On hurdles bow, she was beaten thirteen lengths but won well last time. She’s a capable mare. Princess T has been very consistent in her last four runs, winning twice. The form of the most recent win was rubber stamped when Kannapolis hacked up at Warwick. Harry Reed takes off a handy 3lbs. A claimer in good form, Max Kendrick, rides The Bees Knees. He has won his past two races and the one in September has been boosted with Celestial Force running well. Three times subsequently. One True King has 12st top weight. He won at Uttoxeter by nearly four lengths, making all, in October and followed that up with a second over course and distance. He looks a smart horse but the weight is the issue. Leroy Leroy carries 11st12. He won by eight lengths at Southwell and then again by three quarters of a length. he hung a bit but he’s quite experienced. Art Approval, on the other hand, has had just two starts and both were seconds. The latter was over course and distance and he was hampered. PERCY’S WORD was a winner on the flat over two miles and made a nice hurdles debut to be second to a well-regarded horse. 634 days later, he was second at Perth and then third at Bangor. He’s about 12/1 and with the Skelton runners going well, he’s one to keep an eye on.