Unbeaten Saxon Warrior is one of four Aidan O’Brien-trained juveniles who will go to post for tomorrow’s Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. The colt remains 7/4 favourite with BetVictor for the final British Group 1 race of the flat season and a win for any one of the Ballydoyle quartet would give O’Brien a world record for most Group 1 wins in a calendar year.
Today is the opening meeting of Cheltenham’s new season and the two-mile Novices’ Chase is an absolute belter with Alan King’s Sceau Royal looking to give 5lbs and a beating to both North Hill Harvey and Movewiththetimes (2.35) with the narrow vote going to the latter.
Sceau Royal made a winning chase debut at Warwick earlier in the month and looked a natural over the larger obstacles. Warwick is an excellent starting point for a novice chaser but the 5lbs penalty sways me to Movewiththetimes who has not been seen on the track since finishing runner-up in the Betfair Hurdle back in February. The selection is currently 20/1 for the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March with BetVictor (25s JLT) and he certainly has the scope to jump a fence. Barry Geraghty comes over from Ireland for the ride and he gets a narrow vote in the best novice chase seen so far this jumps season.
Gordon Elliot brings Presenting Julio across the Irish Sea and, with Jamie Codd booked, he must go very close in the Handicap Chase for amateur riders. He is likely to be all the rage in the market, however, and I think Indian Castle (4.20) can defy a 541-day lay-off for Ian Williams with Sam Waley-Cohen a significant booking.
The selection has gone well fresh in the past, is very well treated on his best form and represents a yard who have been finding plenty of winners of late. He is taken to reward each way support in a typically competitive Cheltenham handicap.
Irish raider Cash In Mind must go close in the Maiden Hurdle, having shaped with considerable promise behind an Elliot-trained hot-pot on his first start over timber, but he may have to settle for the silver medal again with the vote going to Slate House (4.55).
The selection cost connections £260,000 at Cheltenham Tattersalls’ Sales when bought back in March, having previously won a point in his native Ireland back in November. Trained by Colin Tizzard, one would imagine the son of Presenting will get further in time but connections look to have found an excellent opportunity for his British/hurdling debut.
Nicky Henderson has a strong hand in the Conditional Jockey’s event which closes the card with Cool Macavity much respected, but his stablemate Percy Street (5.30) is open to significant improvement and the hope is he gets the end-to-end gallop, which will suit this decent stayer on the level.
At Doncaster Dubhe (1.20) will appreciate today’s better ground having been bogged down in the Haydock mud last time. The selection is bred to come into his own over middle distances next term but it is possible that he has been given a favourable opening mark for his handicap debut.
Key Bid is another Godolphin owned runner with a leading chance, but Golden Birthday (4.10) has won his last four starts on the level and over jumps and must be followed off only a 5lbs higher mark than when scoring at Kempton last time.
At Newbury The New Pharaoh (5.10) was slowly away and never got involved in his previous “hands and heels” race for apprentices over C&D 12 months ago but I am a big fan of Finley Marsh and hope he can cajole the talented but quirky selection along in the finale.