It’s a poor turnout for Sunday’s Cheltenham meeting with just 47 runners declared across the six races, and that includes a maximum field of 20 for the Greatwood Hurdle. Take that away and the other four races average just 5.4 runners per contest. Not ideal for punters but it should still serve up some a great spectacle. We needed only two runners for that on Friday!!
The Colin Tizzard team are already enjoying a much better season than last, where despite their poor form, OSCAR ELITE was one shining light. He was second in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival then third in the staying G1 novice at Aintree. Although he is giving up chasing experience to his four rivals, he was bang up there with these over hurdles and has always looked like making an even better chaser. He has won a point-to-point on good ground and hurdles wins on heavy, so conditions all come alike.
Does He Know has already beaten Threeunderthrufive and the wayward Undersupervision but has an 8lb penalty to shoulder while Streets Of Doyen hasn’t set the world alight over fences yet, despite being just behindOSCAR ELITE here in March.
EMPIRE DE MAULDE is a fast improving staying chaser and looks a cracking bet to follow up his recent Kelso win. He as plenty of experience for a 7yo over larger obstacles, this will be his fourteenth start over them and et his best performance to date came when travelling like a dream and easily brushing aside the talented Big River at the Borders track three weeks ago.
He gets 20lb off the admirable Yala Enki, who is making his first start since a first fence unseat in the Grand National. We know he stays forever but is rising twelve now and could be vulnerable to younger legs. Go Another One needs to bounce back from a below par effort three weeks ago, Rocky’s Treasure continues to slide down the handicap and The Mighty Don hasn’t shown much form for a while now. Forza Milan would be interesting if turning out but is declared on Saturday afternoon.
Only four go to post for the Shloer Chase and tactics will be very important.
Reigning Champion Chaser Put The Kettle On is 4/4 at Cheltenham and 3/3 in the month of November, having won this race twelve months ago. She is so game and gutsy but may have been slightly fortunate to win this last year, after a late error from Duc De Genievres handed her the advantage.
She gets the same 7lb weight allowance afforded her in the Champion Chase, when she was chased home by Nube Negra. He can be expected to improve again this year but may not get the searching pace a bigger field may have produced for this strong traveller, but he does also possess a decent turn of foot.
Rouge Vif broke the track record on seasonal reappearance at this venue last season and has since joined Paul Nicholls. First time out could be the time to catch him, and he’ll have his conditions. But a bit is to be taken on trust, while his stablemate and former Champion Chaser Politilogue is a superstar who has entered the veteran phase. He rarely fails to run his race, but even that may not be good enough against a couple of younger speedsters. A fascinating renewal to watch and enjoy.
The Greatwood Hurdle is a great betting heat and I’m going to put a couple up here who should give us a run for our money.
Many people are liking the claims of Camprond here, but at over twice the price you can make an equal case, if not better for ROWLAND WARD. He beat Camprond off level weights at Aintree in April before being just three lengths behind him in receipt of 2lb at Haydock the following month. He now gets 9lb off Camprond and at around 28/1, he rates a decent each way bet, especially with the extra place terms on offer. He travelled well for a long way at Chepstow in the Silver Trophy but will appreciate the drop back to two miles and the likely strong pace.
I will also add GALICE MACALO into the mix who is going to improve a bundle for a fast pace in a big field. She was sent off just 3/q for the G1 Tolworth Hurdle last season when only fifth and just beat the one home in the Betfair Hurdle in February. She cantered to success in a weak maiden hurdle at Chepstow in March and travelled well for long way before only giving best close home when a close fourth on her seasonal appearance at the Welsh track. She was just behind Allmankind and he has franked the form subsequently so at around 18/1, she too can be backed each way with extra places available.
Just the four go to post for the Supreme trial. I Like to Move It sets the standard o his defeat of Tritonic at the last meeting but has a 3lb penalty, although he is rated 10lb superior to Paul Nicholls penalised runnerSonigino who is also seeking a hat-trick on his stable debut after coming from France where his form was on heavy ground and so is hard to weigh up. Washington did it nicely at Bangor three weeks ago, but this is a totally different test while the Skelton’s rely on the maiden Pikar who made Knappers Hill pull out all the stops on his debut at Chepstow. Its another race to watch.