Weekend Racing Preview: Cheltenham Tips and More6 min read
A wonderful weekend of racing over both codes but we must start with today’s Racing Post Trophy which could see Ballydoyle handler Aidan O’Brien break the world record for Group/Grade 1 contests in a calendar year.
O’Brien saddles four of the 12-runner field including the unbeaten Saxon Warrior who is our market leader and the pick of Ryan Moore. He and stablemate, The Pentagon, are much respected but the best form going in to the race, arguably, belongs to fellow Irish raider Verbal Dexterity (3.25) and he gets the each way vote for Jim Bolger.
The selection was a fluent winner of the National Stakes at the Curragh last time and Bolger has compared the colt favourably with his top class juveniles of the past Teofilo and New Approach. The colt has only run on soft ground and his ability to handle today’s good ground must be taken on trust, but he looks the value in what looks a vintage renewal of this valuable Group 1 contest.
Sir Dancealot (4.35) just about gets 7f and he can land the Conditions Event for David Elsworth and Ryan Moore. The combination were just touched off at Leicester last time but I expect Moore to leave his challenge to the last minute on this talented three-year-old.
At Cheltenham, Singlefarmpayment is our favourite for the opener and is a horse who I think will go very close in the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup) at Newbury next month for which he is currently a shot. He must run well this afternoon but I am also a big admirer of Doing Fine and he gets a narrow vote in a cracking 16-runner handicap.
There’ll be no hanging about in the 2m Handicap Chase and I remember thinking Double W’s would be something to bet on next time when he travelled well, but folded tamely at Kelso on his reappearance earlier in the month. The handicapper has seen fit to drop him a couple of pounds, but he is reluctantly overlooked given the yard of Malcolm Jefferson could hardly be described as firing on all cylinders at present.
The narrow vote goes to Irish raider Some Plan (3.10) who is making his handicap debut for Henry de Bromhead. The selection is closely matched with Le Prezien on form from this corresponding meeting 12 month ago, will love the ground and looks to have a good each way chance at .
At Newbury, Mythical Magic (2.50) will appreciate the drop back to 7f in the Horris Hill Stakes and the hope is that James Doyle can dictate his own fractions from the front for Charlie Appleby whose string are in top form.
At Aintree on Sunday Global Citizen (12.40) can make a winning hurdling debut for Jonjo O’Neill. A winning pointer in his native Ireland the selection won a Worcester Bumper on his British debut and can see off the challenge of Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side who is another exciting novice.
My two against the field in the 2m 4f Handicap Hurdle are Stamp Your Feet and Bags Groove (2.25) and I’m going to give the latter another chance having looked just in need of the run at Chepstow earlier in the month for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily.
The Old Roan Chase is a fascinating contest and preference for Oldgrangewood (3.00) is marginal. Cloudy Dream looks a market leader and if Double W’s has run well at Cheltenham on Saturday that would be a positive for the Trevor Hemmings’-trained grey who is also trained by Malcolm Jefferson. Oldgrangewood has an 8lbs pull with Cloudy Dream for the 5L he was beaten at Ayr in the spring, but he will have race-fitness on his side and at , he is another each way recommendation.