Another quality day of horseracing with meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Bangor. The only issue is the number of runners in the races, with some races failing to attract more than 4 runners going to post, which is disappointing given that the ground at all 3 meetings is just about perfect for winter sport. Only one race at Doncaster has more than 5 runners
At Cheltenham, the race that catches my eye is the 3m2f Handicap Chase being run at 2:30pm, and it has attracted a quality field of 9 runners. Coo Star Sivola who won here at the Festival in March off OR142, and his two runs this autumn should mean he comes here in tip-top form.
He will need to be at his best to hold off the topweight Rock The Kasbah who won here over a slightly longer trip (with several rivals in this race behind him) in what looked to be a career-best effort. Whether this shorter trip is in his favour is debatable. Behind Rock The Kasbah that day was Singlefarmpayment and this horse deserves a bit of luck. He meets Rock The Kasbah on 6lb better terms which, combined with the slightly shorter trip, should ensure he is able to reverse the form. Since winning at this meeting in 2016 as a novice chaser, Singlefarmpayment has raced 9 times without winning, not finishing 3 of those races (BD, Fell, and PU), but not being out of the 1st-5 in the remaining 6 completed races. In 5 of those races he's started the market leader (or joint-fav) and, in my opinion, he's better than his current rating of OR146 by about 5lb. He has an outstanding chance. Also in that race won by Rock The Kasbah was Cogry, but off OR139 he will need a career-best to win, in fact he may need to improve 5lb.
Some of the other runners are also very interesting, such as Kerrow who was having his first run in 18 months when falling at the final fence at Bangor LTO. He could be absolutely thrown-in running off OR135, as he looks a potential 145+ chaser. Another interesting runner is Theatre Territory, but I think this mare is better over shorter trips than 3-mile.
Rolling Dylan does not look good enough, and this looks a big ask for El Bandit in what will be only his 3rd chase race but he is clearly well thought of at home by Paul Nicholls; whereas the 10yo Doing Fine is a bit too old for this.
I am finding it tricky splitting Kerrow (best odds 7/1) and Singlefarmpayment (best odds 15/2), both should be right there at the finish and although Kerrow looks one to follow this season, this extra 2-furlongs could find him out.
Selection: SINGLEFARMPAYMENT £5 eachway @ 15/2 (Bet Victor, 5th the odds 1,2,3)
At Bangor, there is a 3-mile Class 3 hurdle at 2:10pm with only 7 runners, and these races can be good betting medium as they are invariably weak. In my opinion, 3-mile hurdle races take some getting, and the horses capable of winning at this distance are few. If the current fav Kansas City Chief had enjoyed a recent run then he'd be my idea of the winner, but he's not run for 274 days and usually needs a recent run to show his best form. With stamina to prove, Crixus's Escape is not one to lump-on; and Valadom is as slow as a boat. The could be a race for ATOMIC RUMBLE to get back into the winners enclosure, as the 5yo won twice in the summer before taking a break, and he probably needed the run last month. Odds of 5/1 look very generous given the opposition and that he still looks to have plenty of potential for improvement in him.
Selection: ATOMIC RUMBLE £10 win @ 5/1 (available generally)
I will be keeping an eye on the weather as Northern England and Scotland could be hit by snow tomorrow according to the forecasts. Cheltenham should be ok, but there is likely to be a lot of rain on the course, and with the cold winds some horses don't like it. Looking ahead, my antepost wager on POLITOLOGUE for the King George Chase on Boxing Day is looking interesting. I managed to get £25 on at 10/1 and with Might Bite looking like he's lost the plot mentally (in my opinion), Waiting Patiently still not guaranteed to start the race and (even if he does) will he be fit enough, and none of Native River, Thistlecrack or Bristol De Mai looking like they would relish 3-miles around Kempton; I am quietly confident.
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