Important contests take place at both Cheltenham and Doncaster. Seymour Biz fancies a Fergal O’Brien-trained gelding to land the spoils, in one of the big races.
Well, after the last few weeks of wonderful racing with some great horses, this week we have slightly humbler fare even though we have a meeting from Cheltenham. Looking at this weeks runners I cannot see many that will be involved in finishes at Prestbury Park come next March. There are however some very competitive handicaps this week including one at Doncaster so I will run the rule over these and try to find some value in them to make it a profitable weekend. Let’s hope the weather relents after all the snow up and down the country and racing is able to take place at the three jumps meetings
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The Cheltenham 1.55 race is The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase, a Class 3 encounter. This is practically a rerun of last months BetVictor Gold Cup, when Splash Of Ginge was victorious and the next four finishers are also declared here. The favourite that day was Kylemore Lough who was pulled up two out after making a terrible mistake at the tenth fence, the water, after which the jockey stated he was never travelling. I give him another chance over the course and similar distance. Paul Nicholls has three declared at this stage including the favourite and top weight Clan Des Obeaux, however I would prefer Le Prezien out of these. A lively outsider is Foxtail Hill who was beaten 25 lengths in the BetVictor but had won well previously on good going, if the going is better than soft he must have a chance. I will however stick with Harry Fry’s charge, Kylemore Lough, in this, he has to be given another chance with Foxtail Hill to chase him home.
At 2.30 we have the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, Gordon Elliot has declared his very good five year old Cracking Smart, who has won his last three races. These however were all in Ireland the last two on soft going, if he comes over for this race he must have every chance, the going may be better than soft and the trainer may think again about sending him. I like the look of Poetic Rhythm at a nice price, highly tried last year for his trainer, Fergal O’Brien, he came out this year and won first time at Chepstow, he then ran third to On The Blind Side beaten only 2 1/2 lengths at Cheltenham in a very competitive race. he will appreciate the extra distance and I take him to run a big race at a nice price. Molly the Dolly is also worth a mention, she won well last time at Warwick and seems to be coming into herself. She is also declared in the 12.55 at Hereford on Saturday.
The 3.40 race is the OLBG Mares Handicap Hurdle for which the horses will need to have their headlights on, as it will be run in the dark. The two ‘ladies’ at the top of the betting seem to hold sway in this – Lady Buttons and Lady Karina, trained by Philip Kirby and Venetia Williams respectively. Lady Buttons won a Listed race at Bangor last time out and previously was only beaten two lengths by Warren Greatrex’s hotpot La Bauge au Roi at Wetherby in a Grade 1 listed race. Lady Karina won at Warwick in a handicap last time and prior to that got her head in front at Hereford, so here we have two good horses at the top of the betting. They are also engaged elsewhere, Lady Karina at Bangor on Friday and Lady Buttons at Newcastle and Warwick on Thursday. Also in the race is Jester Jet who is an improving horse having won four out of last six, she has a bit to do here but has a chance. I will however go for Lady Buttons on her Listed form.
Over at Doncaster at 3.20 we have the Bet365 Handicap Chase and I like the look of Virgilio. Dan Skeltons charge is high in the weights. He won a good race at Aintree at the end of last season and came out this year last month at Aintree again running eighth behind On Tour, where he faded two out. He was up against two of the main protaginists in this race that time as well, but I think he can acquit himself much better. The two I have mentioned are Master Dee and Ballybolley who have raced against each other three times running. I hope they have their eyes on each other and let the selection run through. Bernadelli can also run a big race at a big price on January’s Kelso form and may get a place. My selection is also engaged at Cheltenham on Friday and should be respected wherever he runs.
Saturday Lucky 15 Picks
1.55 Chelt – Kylemore Lough
2.30 Chelt – Poetic Rhythm
3.40 Chelt – Lady Buttons
3.20 Don – Virgilio
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