Day two of the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham with the feature race of the meeting The Paddy Power Gold Cup looking an open renewal with the bookmakers currently betting 5/1 the field. The ITV cameras are there to capture four races and also at leafy Lingfield for a brace of all-weather listed races. The ground is drying at Cheltenham and unless the course water on Friday evening (quite possible) we’ll be looking at good ground. Here’s my early thoughts.
Seven young chasers line up for the grade 2 Arkle Trial Novice Chase run over two miles. The best in at today’s weights on hurdle ratings is Ann Hamilton’s Tommy’s Oscar who made a winning fencing debut at Carlisle when taking the scalp of prolific winner Geromino with owner and part trainer Ian Hamilton stating afterwards that he was badly in need of a run and will come on a ton. I do believe if he was trained by a more fashionable trainer he would be favourite here and he’s the bet in the race. Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge runs here rather than a handicap on Friday and should go well although was rated a 13lb inferior hurdler to Tommy’s Oscar and the drop to two miles may not be ideal. Paul Nicholls has his stable in terrific form having trained over twenty winners over the last fortnight and saddles his chasing debutant Monmiral here. He too was rated 7lb inferior to the selection although you can never dismiss anything from that stable at the moment. Nicky Henderson is beginning to get going and his runner Pentland Hills, who walked over at Huntingdon a fortnight ago, makes his fencing debut and is another one who could go well. The bet however has to be Tommy’s Oscar, who’s fit and we know jumps well.
TOMMY’S OSCAR 2 points win @ 7/2 Betfred
An excellent renewal of the 2m 4F Paddy Power Gold Cup with a strong numerical presence of sixteen. It has a very open look about it with several holding claims. Surprisingly the Irish don’t have a particularly good record in the past in this race but have the current market leader in French Dynamite, trained by Mouse Morris. A win at Thurles over hurdles 23 days ago should have put him spot on for this and can go well along with the likes of Sam Thomas’s Stolen Silver although he’s up 7lb for his latest win here in the spring and has to race off of his highest ever handicap mark today. Happygolucky was a smart chaser when last seen but that was two seasons ago and surely he couldn’t win this after a 581-day absence could he? Paul Nicholls is two-handed with last years sixth Simply The Betts who’s now in the ownership of amateur David Maxwell and Il Ridoto who has had his wind tinkered with since last seen and preference would be for the latter. Jamie Snowden saddles Ga Law who was a real eye catcher on his re-appearance when a running on third in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree. That was his first run for 603 days and as long as he doesn’t bounce is the one I think may take this. I can’t resist a saver on Paul Nicholls’ Il Ridoto as well although bets should be kept small as this is a very competitive race.
GA LAW 1 point each way @ 13/2 William Hill 1/5th 12345
IL RIDOTO 1 point each way @ 17/2 William Hill 1/5th 12345
An All-Weather fast track qualifier run over 6F is the listed Golden Rose Stakes. I find it hard to fancy anything beyond the front three in the market with the Irish-trained Logo Hunter and David O’Meara’s Summerghand the ones to concentrate on. The latter was pulled out last Saturday at Doncaster on the turf when the ground went heavy and won’t mind this surface having won four times on the all-weather for ten career tries. He’s nicely drawn in stall 5 and can take this from Logo Hunter who’s been runner up on his last two starts over 5F and may prefer the minimum trip. The other possible is Ado McGuiness’s seven-year-old Harry’s Bar who was some 5L behind Logo Hunter at Dundalk last time but is best at 6F so can get closer today.
SUMMERGHAND 1 point win @ 11/4 bet365
Next up is a three-mile class handicap hurdle with thirteen going to post. With Paul Nicholls in such fine form, the first horse to look at is Shearer who’s chasing a hat trick following small-field victories at Worcester and over course and distance at the last meeting. The horse he beat last time Twig has won easily since to frank his chances. He looks the one to beat. 2020 winner and top weight today On The Blind Side represents the in-form Nicky Henderson stable and off of a pound lower than that victory has claims. Two horses that have been chasing and look particularly well handicapped are Dan Skelton’s Padleyourowncanoe (12lb lower than his last hurdles run) and Chris Gordon’s Annual Invictus (runs off the same mark as when 4th in the Betfair Hurdle when last seen over timber). Preference of that pair would be for the former with the latter having to prove his stamina. Shearer is probably the most likely winner but at the prices, I’ll go each way with enhanced places with Padleyourowncanoe who may have been laid out for this.
PADLEYOUROWNCANOE 1 point each way @ 7/1 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power 1/5th 1234
A dozen lineup for the listed Churchill Stakes run over 1m 2F and features a very interesting contender in the Aiden O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet, a smart performer who we haven’t seen for a year. If fit he is the one to beat but has yet to race on the all-weather and will he be straight enough? At around 7/2 I’ll look elsewhere for the winner. George Boughey saddles his progressive three-year-old Missed The Cut who hasn’t been seen since disappointing at Deauville in a group 3 in August. He probably didn’t handle the slow ground that day and is making his all-weather here today. John and Thady Gosden run two in last year’s runner up Harrovian who we haven’t seen for 134 days and Forest Of Dean who is also coming here following a lay off. Preference is for the former who could be the value play each way today.
HARROVIAN 1 point each way @ 6/1 Betfred 1/5 123
Fourteen go to post for this 2m 5F intermediate handicap hurdle and features a good bet in the likely favourite Wiseguy, trained at Seven Barrows by Nicky Henderson. Not seen for 337 days but by all accounts has been working very well and could be chucked in here in his handicap debut when we remember that he beat the 148 rated Hillcrest in a bumper at Doncaster in January 2021 by a nose and can race today off of a initial mark of just 119. Nico de Boinville rides and he may have most to fear from Irish raiders Elle Perfecta, trained by Colm Murphy and well supported during the week and Tony Martin’s bottom weight Unanswered who will obviously be worth watching in the market. Henderson has another runner here in the JP McManus owned Time Flies By, a maiden hurdle winner at Fontwell last month but he’s already been beaten in two handicaps and doesn’t appear to have as much scope as stable companion Wiseguy.
WISEGUY 2 points win @ 7/2 bet365