Racing at the weekend in America was quite underwhelming and left me feeling a bit flat (excuse the pun) with the defeat of Goldikova and wins for highly priced, unconsidered American trained horses.
But hopefully the weekend ahead will lift my spirits with Cheltenham’s first really big meeting of the season. In the meantime there are several decent races midweek to whet our appetite.
First of all, in the heart of Wales, Bangor has a good card and the same is true over the border and South at Exeter, who have a card which may feature last year’s Champion Hurdle hope and previous Supreme Novices winner MENORAH. He looked very unfortunate when unseating Richard Johnson at the second last on his first start over the bigger obstacles. The drop down to 2 miles should suit him and he looks different class.
Another horse attempting to get off the mark over fences is PEDDLERS CROSS, last year’s Champion Hurdle runner up and class act for the Donald McCain yard. He runs in a Class 4 Beginner’s chase but looks like going off a very short and, with a long season ahead, hopefully culminating at the Festival next March, I’d advise fans to just keep an eye on him on this occasion.
Royal Opera looks a sort who looked to appreciate the switch from flat to national hunt when second on his maiden hurdle at Aintree, narrowly going down by a neck. The son of Acclamation can surely build on that effort, the winner and Royal Opera were 16 lengths clear of the third. He is with a shrewd trainer who will surely get the maximum out of this promising gelding.
RAJEEVA looks a very interesting sort for the Venetia Williams camp, dropped into handicap company after three lacklustre maiden hurdles. His aggregate losses of 220 lengths may not paint the true picture for a gelding that has not been knocked about and has been asked for very little. Getting in on a very low mark as such may just give the horse a chance of capitalising, with the effective amateur Harry Challoner taking 6 valuable pounds off. He could well catch the handicapper out.
FRASCATI PARK is a horse who served the Twiston-Davies team very well last season, winning a novice hurdle at Ascot that had the Nicky Henderson trained Sprinter Sacre, the Cheltenham Supreme Novice runner-up, trailing in his wake. He returned from a 179 day break, winning a good beginners chase, coming away and winning by 6 lengths on soft ground at Carlisle. He seems in good heart, should be race fit and, most importantly, has a touch of class about him.
2.00 Royal Opera (Nap)
2.20 Frascati Park