FOR all National Hunt enthusiasts, this weekend will feel like Christmas has come early after the snow, ice, frost and mist has seen almost every Jumps card fall by the wayside in the last ten days or so.
Thankfully, racing’s great strength of successful re-arranging has come up trumps once again and allows us the chance to see what promises to be a fascinating Grade 1 Tingle Creek.
Cheltenham’s Saturday card is also bolstered by three Grade 2’s and the Grade 3 Vote AP Gold Cup, named in honour of racing’s bid to help crown Tony McCoy as BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
I’m sure many of you will have opinions formulating as to who you believe will run well in the televised races from Cheltenham but they do look devilishly tricky; even the Tingle Creek where Master Minded could well go off at odds on.
He restored his reputation somewhat last time and it is hard to see him getting turned over here but at the price, I just don’t think he’s a viable bet. Gauvain would be his biggest danger for me.
Possibly the most intriguing race regards to the future is the Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.10) which just has to be watched as it features the favourite for that race at Cheltenham in Sam Winner, but also any number of likely challengers from the experienced Toner D’oudairies to the hurdle debutant Comedy Act. The latter-named was a pretty good Flat handicapper this year for Sir Mark Prescott and was purchased for big money at the Horses In Training sales so don’t be surprised if he goes very close here. That said, Sam Winner does look special.
The International Hurdle also looks mouth-watering with Silvianico Conti, Menorah and Cue Card all due to line-up but if you’re looking for a betting race, it’s the wide-open 2.30, where a whole host are in with a chance.
The two for me would be Robinson Collonges who is a young chaser improving rapidly and Dave’s Dream who, judged on his last performance, is far better than what he has shown us so far. Both have to go well, but then many will be equally as strong on the chances of Mad Max, Little Josh, Great Endeavour and Psycho, to name but four. From a betting angle, there’s no harm in having interesting at small stakes but to advise that there’s a certainty in the field would be pure folly.
As you may know, we have been finding a few winners on the all-weather of late so, for betting purposes, it seems logical to stick with what we know for now. Another factor in this decision is that many horses running at Cheltenham may not be exactly where their trainers want them fitness-wise due to the prevailing weather conditions recently.
Wolverhampton will be freezing come 8.20 but take the chance to warm yourself up with a nice winner. Quite simply, Richard Fahey’s Northern Dare is thrown in on some of his old form in this sprint handicap and if he can recapture his old sparkle, he’ll win this easily. What’s more some of his recent form figures and the fact that he hasn’t ran for nigh on 5 months could put a few people off and he might well go off a bigger price than he should be. His absence is seen as a bonus by yours truly as it means he’s been saved for a successful all-weather campaign and he’s likely to be a value bet to beat what appears to be moderate opposition.
Don’t leave before the last either as Elijah Pepper (8.50) should win it.
Saturday, December 11
8.20 (Wolv) Northern Dare
8.50 (Wolv) Elijah Pepper