There is significant rain forecast for Cheltenham ahead of and during Saturday’s card, the highlight of which is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Rather Be is 3/1 market leader with BetVictor having been brought down at the top of the hill four out in the BetVictor Gold Cup when travelling like the winner. Nicky Henderson’s 7-year-old acts well enough on soft ground but is considered at his best on a decent surface and he is reluctantly overlooked.
The each way vote – in the expectation that there is significant rain – is for Cepage (1.55) who is 10/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way four places (1/5th odds) on this 15-runner handicap. Trained by Venetia Williams – who saddled the winner of the corresponding race four years ago – the selection has a good record fresh, has a nice low-weight of 10st 5lbs and, as a 6-y-old, is open to significant improvement.
Bun Doran has been raised 10lbs by the handicapper for an improved show when scoring here last month and that might be enough to prevent a follow up although trainer Tom George is convinced he is a better horse this term. Top Gamble would have been the selection, but the Kerry Lee yard are not yet firing, and he is best watched although he is becoming very well treated.
I hope to see Hell’s Kitchen (1.20) make a bold show from the front in the 2m Handicap Chase having disappointed on his reappearance over an additional half mile on his seasonal debut. Rain would be a plus for Harry Fry’s seven-year-old, given this 2m trip is, arguably, on the sharp side for a horse who is held in high regard by the yard.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy disappointed when last of four in the BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle a fortnight ago and this is very much a recovery mission for the six-year-old although it is possible that he might have needed the run.
Vision Des Flos finished in front of the selection at Gosforth Park and might be a shade overpriced at 12/1 with BetVictor, but the vote goes to Western Ryder (3.05) who finished fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle last time and will appreciate the forecast rain. At 7/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support.
A small but select field of four will go to post for the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Doncaster where there is the possibility of snow. Rocky’s Treasure was only beaten a couple of lengths by RSA Chase favourite Santini at Newbury last time and is a worthy favourite, but I was impressed with the chase debut of King Of Realms (1.35) at Ascot and feel he is worth following for Ian Williams.
Solomon Grey (2.10) has been raised 5lbs for winning at Market Rasen when last seen in the spring, but I felt he had bits of form as a novice last term which suggest he may be well handicapped for his reappearance.Dan Skelton has his yard in excellent form and Bridgit Andrews takes the ride with stable jockey Harry Skelton required at Cheltenham.
At Hereford Young Wolf (12.35) can take advantage of the 11lbs – including jockey’s allowance – he receives from penalised Star Of Lanka for Jonjo O’Neill with his talented son in the plate. The selection looked a potential improver when fourth – not knocked about – at Uttoxeter on his first start for the yard having finished runner at up in a Bumper at Leopardstown 12 months ago on his sole start for Mags Mullins.
If the rain arrives I am convinced Coeur Blimey (2.20) is well treated in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle although he does have a tendency to jump left yet connections persevere with running the horse right-handed. He must go close if his jumping holds up.
Tom Lacey has his string in good form and Alberto’s Dream(12.00) won first time out last season on his first start for the yard and can make a winning reappearance having improved leaps and bounds last term – winning four of his five starts.
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