Feeling The Love With Cuddles McGraw At Leicester6 min read
News broke that Arkle favourite Le Richebourg had picked up an injury and would miss the rest of the season. Trainer Joseph O’Brien was not immediately forthcoming on the extent of the injury but let’s hope we see him back on the track next season.
In his absence Lalor is BetVictor’s new 3/1 market leader (NRNB) for the Grade 1 Novice Chase a fortnight today with Glen Forsa and Defi Du Seuil 7/2 with the latter expected to switch from the JLT for owner JP McManus.
A six-race all chase card at Leicester this afternoon and the second race is a hot contest with three last-time out winners in the field. Indeed all seven hold a realistic chance. Top-weight Well Smitten is better than he showed at Huntingdon last time and is one of several potential front-runners in the field.
Pique Rock won three of her five points and ran well on her chase debut when third behind Wishfull Dreaming – who reopposes today – at Doncaster last month. I would be optimistic of a big run today, but I was disappointed with the run of Black Tulip from the Henry Daly yard last week and she is reluctantly overlooked in favour of the wonderfully named Cuddles McGraw (2.30).
The selection has been raised 8lbs for winning at Warwick last time, should enjoy the decent pace and has the scope for further improvement over fences.
It is hard to say just how much ability Champagne West retains but this former Thyestes Chase winner would have picked up today’s opposition in his pomp and he is still only 11 years of age. The market should provide valuable clues as to how he is working for his new yard.
The vote, however, goes to The Last But One (3.00) who has won three of his last four between the flags for bloodstock agent cum point-to-point trainer Tom Malone and he gets the vote with leading amateur William Biddick taking the ride.
Cuddles McGraw (2.30)
The Last But One (3.00)
At Ffos Las and Urtheonethatiwant (2.10) steps up to 3m for the first time in the Handicap Hurdle having been raised just 3lbs for scoring at Kempton (2m 5f) last month. Trainer Jeremy Scott has his string in good form and Matt Griffiths takes over in the saddle with Nick Schofield currently side-lined.
The mare Top And Drop is another last time out winner who must hold every chance of doubling up, but I hope it is a good day for the Jeremy Scott yard and hope Colmers Hill (2.40) can put behind a modest run last time returning to the scene of his previous C&D success. The selection is blinkered for the first-time this afternoon.
Baratineur (3.10) has changed stables since finishing second at Sedgefield last time and I hope Adrian Wintle can work the oracle although the selection is 6lbs higher than last time.
Colmers Hill (2.40)
At Catterick, Saryshagann (2.50) can make it third time lucky over timber having jumped out to his left, markedly at times, when finishing runner up at Musselburgh last time. Today’s tight left-handed track should suit with Wayne Hutchinson taking over in the saddle.
Connections of Niven were hoping their charge would win at Newcastle over the weekend as they are hoping to get a run in the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase at the Festival. I was surprised connections didn’t make it a decent test over the minimum trip at Gosforth Park and he was readily outjumped when the pace lifted.
Louis’ Vac Pouch (3.20) is not entered at Cheltenham but steps up in trip having won on his Chase debut for the yard of Henry Oliver at Ludlow earlier in the month. He is taken to maintain his unbeaten record although Niven certainly will appreciate today’s extra four furlongs.
Louis’ Vac Pouch (3.20)