AN EXCELLENT weekend of racing was had from the Cheltenham Open meeting last weekend, with three days of top class sport and some fantastic sights from Prestbury Park.
Exciting novice chases Peddlers Cross, Al Ferof and Grand Crus all impressed last week winning first time out over the larger obstacles, and anticipation has already started to grow ahead of the festival in March.
Not Cheltenham but Warwick this midweek and there are some cracking looking handicap. The 1.30 looks to be the most puzzling with lots of runners and doubts over the fitness of horses at this relatively early point in the season. The answer, however, could lie with the Mary Evans owned and trained MAIZY MISSILE.
The mare only raced three times last year, with one win and two seconds to show for it. She is clearly difficult to train, as she has a lengthy break between races, she’s only had 12 races since debuting over five and a half years ago. It seems to work however, and she was last seen running at Newton Abbot in March when going off the 5/1 favourite for a two miles one furlong handicap hurdle and winning by three lengths. She attempts chasing for the first time and, given her record when fresh, she looks sure to give a good account of herself.
Later on in the card the 2.30 is a grade three open chase for four year olds and there are numerous representatives from the major players with horses from the King, Nicholls and Henderson yards entered. Nicky Henderson’s import TORNADE D’ESTRUVAL looks to have a fantastic chance of opening his UK account, based on his smart French form. He won over hurdles at Auteil so the step up to fences in the UK should not be a major problem. He was well backed at Ascot when disappointing, but the money for him suggests he is probably well thought of at home and he can get off the mark here.
HAZY TOM is likely to go off a short price in the 3.00 but he should be far too good for this field of novices and he can complete a hat-trick of wins this season. The in-form Charlie Longsdon yard have been firing on all cylinders and Hazy Tom has won two bumpers and a novices hurdle since winning an Irish point to point. Cheltenham Champion Bumper runner Knights Pass may prove a serious threat if he his jumping is up to it but Hazy Tom sets an impressive standard.
1.30 Warwick - Maizy Missile
2.30 Warwick - Tornade D’estruval
3.00 Warwick - Hazy Tom (Nap)