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Sunday 13 November 2016

Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham

I had a good day at Cheltenham yesterday even though I didn't find a winner.
The ground was very testing as the overnight rain soaked in and I thought it was soft/heavy. It was no surprise to see horses which favoured testing ground (Taquin De Seuil has won 4 times from 4 races on heavy ground for instance) come to the fore.  It was therefore disappointing that selection COGRY was knocked-out of his race by the loose-horse when going well.

Looking back at yesterday, I was not particularly impressed with Thistlecrack. I wont be putting any money on him to win a Gold Cup based on yesterdays performance.

Onto Sunday, and another strong programme of racing from Cheltenham. The ground is officially soft. In the opening race at 12:45pm Ballyandy and Moon Racer meet again, and I would expect Moon Racer to maintain his superiority over his rival.  However, do not ignore Keep In Line who was at his best on soft ground on the flat and looks well up to winning this.

The novice chase at 1:20pm is one of the most informative of the autumn and Paul Nicholls usually aims his best novice chaser at this race and Le Prezien should go well, as he handles soft ground and has a weight advantage having not won his debut chase LTO. One to watch is Three Stars (trained by Henry De Bromhead) who will set a decent benchmark for the race but, if Le Prezien runs to the level expected, he won't be able to concede 6lb.

Henry De Bromhead also sends Special Tiara today for the Shloer Chase (Grade 2, Class 1) over 2-miles at 1:55pm, however this horse usually needs his seasonal debut. I would be surprised if Fox Norton has found 15lb of improvement since running 3rd to Douvan in the "Arkle" last March, and so Simonsig comes into the picture. He may be a 10yo but he has few miles on the clock as showed he was no back-number at Punchestown in April. If he runs to that level today, he will take some beating - and he goes well on soft/heavy ground. Top Gamble is having to concede plenty of weight on these terms, and Simply Ned flopped here in this race last year. At odds of 7/2, Simonsig looks fair value to break the trends merchants.

The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at 2:30pm has been one of the most informative handicaps in the racing calendar recently, and this year will likely be no different. Keep your notebook handy!
There will be a fair few improvers in this race, and so it will be tricky to find the winner this morning. However, we do have some off the alert list running: Sternrubin, Modus, and John Constable. After winning LTO, Sternrubin looks to be still improving and he loves these races.  Modus was in 3rd that day staying-on well, and he could well come on for that run. He lost his way last season, and his OR140 rating looks light given his potential (was 2nd in the Champion Bumper to Moon Racer in 2015).  I noted John Constable when he was 2nd to Sternrubin at Newbury last November when he gave that horse 9lb.  Now he gets 8lb which is a 17lb turnaround for a 4-length beating. OK, he was also in the Ascot race won by Sternrubin last month, but he goes best on soft ground and we could see a big improvement in his running today.

No selections advised today, and I will update the blog to include a page with this seasons results later today.

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