The second meeting at Cheltenham this season is a cracker with 11 Listed & Graded contests on show. Here are my early thoughts on some of the races. Please note that although the aim is to find the winner early on there is no guarantee that the horses selected will turn up for these races and this should only be used as a guide to help you pick out the winner.
Friday 13th November — Countryside Day
14:25 Cheltenham — Novice Chase (Class 2)
Race number three on the card is a 2m4f Novice Chase which looks certain to cut up. I expect some notable NR’s will pop up, starting with Fusil Raffles who has looked very impressive over fences to far, I had my doubts on his first start but he put those worries to bed with an impressive win here in October. I think He will be lining up for the Grade 2, 2 mile chase here on Saturday. He’s taking up a nice chunk of the market so it could pay to get on your pick early.
Mossy Fen who currently sits in the market at 12/1 also looks to me like he will line up elsewhere. The 3m Novice Chase on Sunday is his other target and I think they will be taking up that engagement.
This leaves us with three main rivals Protektorat, Southfield Stone and Beat The Judge.The market it currently headed by Protektorat for Harry Skelton, a big improver last season rising from a mark of 128 to 144.
He managed to pick up a win in Listed company and was far from disgraced in graded company on his next start when finishing 3rd to King Roland and Harry Senior.
It was a very pleasing debut over fences for this runner who jumped for fun round Carlisle and if jumping like that on Friday he could take some stopping. He is the clear favourite for me here, hes acted well at the course before and there should be plenty more to come over fences.
Southfield Stone is a very consistent horse, since going chasing he’s only finished out the front two on one occasion. Partly this is because he mainly races in small field, with four out of the six races he’s competed in has had 4 runners of less. He does run his race more often than not but I think he’s coming up against quite a useful rival in Protektorat and he will need to step up on his most recent outing.
Despite being one of the lower rated horses in the race Beat The Judge does make some appeal. His form since going chasing reads 3113, what’s more impressive is I think he’s crying out for this step up in trip and I’m hoping that it will bring about some improvement.
Protektorat is the most likely winner in this race, that is very much reflected in the price. Now looks as good a time as any to get on him with some possible NR’s likely to make him an even money shot or even shorter.
Southfield Stone looks a good prospect on paper but when you dive into his form he leaves plenty to be desired.
Beat The Judge could be the play either E/W 2 places, W/O favourite or Forecast.
15:00 Cheltenham — Cross Country Chase (Class 2)
A race that should have national hunt fans purring, last seasons emphatic Cross Country winner Easysland takes on two time Grand National winner Tiger Roll.
A result that would've shocked many at the Festival last season as Easysland put 17L between himself and fan favourite Tiger Roll. However shocking the result was it looked no fluke with Tiger Roll finishing a further 18L ahead of 3rd. The pair currently dominate the market with Easysland an odds favourite and Tiger Roll currently 3/1. Neither of these strike me as a betting proposition and with them being so far clear of the field on ratings there is some interest in having an E/W play on a horse carrying a low weight.
Im opting for Out Sam who chased the pair home in March. A runner in this race last year he finished 3rd beaten 13L by Easysland, that day he was having to give weight but will be getting a healthy 30lbs from the rival in this occasion. He gets a further 4lbs from Tiger Roll who finished 18L ahead of him in March off level weights.
This race will likely end up going to one of the big guns in Tiger Roll or Easysland. An E/W bet on Out Sam is advised with the rival having a huge weight swing and comes here off the back of a fair run at Cork.