We will have a much better idea of how the Cheltenham Festival will shape-up, when this weekend is over and Seymour Biz has a quartet of horses for your Saturday combination bet.
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And so we have Trials Day at Cheltenham this Saturday, unfortunately I can’t see all that many of the top class horses we can expect to see in March turning up for this meeting. We have got a Gold Cup trial in which the favourite, Bristol De Mai, blew up in his last race, the connections blaming ulcers, and is meeting some worthy challengers who are at pretty good prices. I fancy Definitly Red and American to finish ahead of this hot-pot, his Haydock form does not seem to be working out, and the going was horrendous that day. I just can’t see his price being justified. The rest of the card seems a little lightweight to me, however I will look at a couple of the other races and try to point you towards a winner or even two. Over at Doncaster we have a good backup card with four Grade 2 races and I have also highlighted a couple of these. The meeting at Uttoxeter has some interesting contests, Henry Daly has two horses declared for the 3.30, Tara Mist and Kayfleur, whichever runs should be respected.
The 1.50 at Cheltenham the Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase looks to have a good turnout, but some of the runners are also declared at Doncaster. I do like the look of Coo Star Sivola, who has had his last two runs at this course finishing third, then second, he can go one better and get to the winners enclosure. He can improve his handicap rating by winning this giving him entries into several of the handicaps at the Festival. But he will not find it easy against the likes of Ballyhill, a winner here on New Years Day, Shantou Flyer who was second that day, and Paul Nichols’s Frodon. The latter has not been out of the frame this year, and has been unlucky in finding individuals like Might Bite, Top Notch and Gold Present against him, however I will stick with Nick Williams’ charge to take this prize.
At 3.00 the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle has attracted some excellent 2 and 1/2 mile hurdlers. I particularly like the look of Black Op, here is one horse we will see at the Festival. He cost £210,000 in April 2016 and since then has won twice at Doncaster, the latest on 9th January. He beat Claimantakinforgan, one of the fancies for this race, last February, and I feel has the beating of him again even though Nicky Henderson’s charge has two wins under his belt since then. Henderson also has the unbeaten Santini declared along with Pacific de Baune so is showing a strong hand, I just can’t see him running all these top hurdlers against each other. Mulcahys Hill is favourite on his running behind Poetic Rhythm last time, but I don’t think that is enough against Black Op.
Over at Doncaster at 2.05, the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle looks a tricky affair. Favourite is the top weight Mr Whipped who has rattled up three wins this season including a Grade 2 at Warwick, hence he has risen in the weights. Mulcahys Hill is also declared and is second favourite here, so is not without a chance. Indian Hawk from Nicky Henderson’s yard showed his stamina at Ludlow last time winning by eight lengths, he is a £110,000 buy but perhaps he needs more experience. I fancy a real outsider, Samuel Jackson, who was 100/1 when winning at Taunton in December, and followed that up with a fine victory at Bangor this month, he looks a good price here and I take him to complete the treble for a small stable.
At 3.15 the Sky Bet Handicap Chase has some runners who also appear in races at Cheltenham. All the top stables are represented with Nicky Henderson being double handed with O O Seven and L’ Ami Serge, both would have a chance if running here. Paul Nichols is also double handed with Frodon and Warriors Tale, two good horses, both with a chance. However I will go for Sue Smith’s charge, Wakanda, although he has not won since December 2015, a listed race at Ascot, he has been running well in good company. He was only beaten a head last time after having hit the last, by Get On The Yager, and I think he can go one better here even against these class horses from top stables.
Saturday Lucky Fifteen
1.50 Cheltenham – Coo Star Sivola
3.00 Cheltenham – Black Op
2.05 Doncaster – Samuel Jackson
3.15 Doncaster – Wakanda
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