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Saturday 25 January 2014

Cheltenham Trials Day

After the hullabaloo of this week, it’s back to what we know best – Cheltenham and the Festival trials meeting. I have an absolute stack of runners from my alert list and I’ll try and sort thru’ those to find us all a decent wager.


This meeting at Cheltenham is one that I await eagerly and I’ve had some good results at in the past. The first race on my radar is the 1:50, a Grade 3 handicap over 2m5f. Of my alert list runners I’m going to delete Renard as (off OR143) he’s handicapped to the hilt; and Shangani is best at trips less than 2m4f. I like the chance of TAP NIGHT; he’s slipped down the ratings from OR153 to OR142 and he’s much better suited by soft/heavy ground than the “good” ground he’s run on recently.  His 2nd to Cloudy Too (went on to win the Rowland Meyrick) in November on heavy ground looks very good now, and he meets Double Ross on 18lb better terms from their last encounter. Double Ross looks held now, tho’ he’s sure to be thereabouts as he loves Cheltenham. Paul Nicholls runs both Cedre Bleu and Ulck Du Lin, but the former is held on form and the latter is an in-and-out performer.  Our Mick is a much better performer on Good-to-soft or better ground, but he could be thereabouts as he’s well handicapped off OR140. Kumbeshwar looks held, as does Wishful Thinking. Finally, Sew On Target has run 5 times at Cheltenham without winning, and is probably better over a shorter trip. Odds of 9/1 (BetVictor) about TAP NIGHT look huge as I’d have expected him to be the 9/2 2nd-fav to Double Ross as he the ground, trip and AP McCoy in the saddle.
The Argento Chase should go to ROCKY CREEK and he’s the 6/4 fav for this race. He could be followed home by Harry Topper if that one jumps a bit better, or Champion Court. I’m not sure that Houblon Des Obeaux goes best at left-handed tracks as a chaser (won here over hurdles).
I’m certainly expecting RED SHERLOCK to maintain his unbeaten run, and he’s 6/4 to do so.
And who can oppose the mighty BIG BUCKS? I’ve already suggested taking the 2/1 about him for the World Hurdle as, should he win this race as expected, then he’ll be 4/9 for the Festival.

12:55 – FOX APPEAL

The Doncaster meeting is also a cracker and worthy of being the feature meeting of the day. The meeting opens with a handicap hurdle over 2m3f and altho’ Hidden Justice was noted by me last Feb when winning over 2-mile on soft at Catterick, his seasonal debut 3-weeks ago was poor. I’m expecting a much improved run today. Altho’ Fox Appeal is on my alert list, I cannot seriously see him troubling the ex-Champion Hurdler ROCK ON RUBY.
The 1:30 is a 2-mile class 2 handicap chase, and the ground being good-to-soft will probably be too quick for Rody who needs it soft/heavy. My other alert list runner, KING OF THE WOLDS was unlucky to meet and in-form Pepite Rose LTO and was out-classed. He can go close in this as I think he’s well-treated on form off OR132.
The feature race at Doncaster is the Skybet Chase over 3-mile. There are 3 alert runners in the race and I can see them all contesting the finish. Gullinbursti hasn’t won beyond 2m6f from 7 attempts, so it’s difficult to see him rectifying that stat in this competitive race, but he could be placed. McCain’s Kruzhlinin has looked an improved performer since stepping up in trip from 2m4f, winning his last couple of starts. But all 6 of his wins have come in fields of 9 or less runners and when faced with 19 rivals at Cheltenham last March (with trip and ground in his favour) he struggled. It may be worth watching him for the first mile to see how he goes and, if favourable, having a small in-running wager. It is NIGHT In MILAN who I have liked the look of all week, and I did mention him on Wednesday, and he is 12/1 available generally, tho’ Bet365 go eachway 4 places. The trip and going will be perfect for NIGHT IN MILAN, and he’s a course winner too winning here LTO over C&D. After that win I wrote: NIGHT IN MILAN has been on my alert list since running 3rd to Chac Du Cadran in the North Yorkshire National (10Jan13). This horse is a very good 3-mile chaser (tho' his stamina cannot be relied upon beyond 3m1f) and he went one-better than his 2nd in the same race last year at Doncaster. This has to go down as a missed opportunity for me. He held his form well last season and so long as he's not raced on soft/heavy or beyond 3m1f, then he can be followed.
The fav Unioniste will run well, but I feel that his rating is OR153 is high enough for him and he’ll not be able to carry topweight to victory.

Cheltenham 1:50 TAP NIGHT, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 9/1 with Bet Victor (5th odds a place 1,2,3)
Doncaster 3:15 NIGHT IN MILAN, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 12/1 with Bet365 (¼ odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Total staked = £30

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