Bristol De Mai is Even money favourite at BetVictor for the Cotswold Chase the feature race on Cheltenham Trials Day on Saturday. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star will be much more at home going left-handed than he was at Kempton in the King George when he repeatedly jumped out to his left. I felt he intimidated eventual winner Might Bite for much of the race and I have marked up the performance of the Nicky Henderson-trained winner.
L’Ami Serge holds entries in three engagements this weekend including the SkyBet Chase for which he is the 5/1 market leader with BetVictor. If the ground were good to soft or better, my each way recommendation would be Long House Hall of Dan Skelton (14/1 with BetVictor) although we do need to wait until later in the week to see how much rain they have on Town Moor.
Exeter describe their inspection as precautionary at 8am for today’s six-raced card. In the finale, I did not think it was conditional jockey Tommy Dowling’s finest hour when he was unseated from Finnegan’s Garden at Chepstow on Friday before the race had begun in earnest. That said the winner Becauseshesaidso (4.25) made all in impressive fashion and a 7lbs rise is unlikely to prevent a follow up. The selection has been raised 12lbs by the handicapper and is thus 5lbs “well-in” and if in the same mood he will be tough to pass.
Both Coningsby (3.20) and Samburu Shujaa look sure to appreciate the step up in trip to today’s near two-and-three-quarter miles and preference for the Tom Lacey runner is marginal. The selection won a point in December before staying on over three furlongs shorter here at the beginning of the month on heavy ground.
Soft ground the order of the day at Catterick and if this were good ground, Ronnie Lawson would be something to bet on having finished runner up at Southwell on good ground from a 2lbs lower mark last time. No such concerns about the ground for Pinch Of Ginger but his jumping is a concern despite scoring at Bangor last time and preference is for So Satisfied (1.55) who runs from the same mark as when finishing second at Musselburgh on Friday.
The selection was staying on over three miles on that occasion and he looks ready for a step back up in trip.
Silva Eclipse (2.30) is 2lbs higher than when running well behind a progressive lightly-raced type of Jonjo O’Neill and he can go one better for Sue Smith and Danny Cook. Top-weight Zeroshadesofgrey will ensure there is no hiding place but the selection receives 10lbs from Neil King’s nine-year-old and that might prove decisive.
Time might tell us that Bentelimar faced an impossible task against the French import Terrefort at Huntingdon last time but he must carry 12st 2lbs this afternoon including jockey Paul O’Briens’s 5lbs claim and he looks vulnerable. I am convinced Cracking Find (3.00) will improve for the additional half mile of today’s contest given he won a handicap hurdle here at this trip at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago.
Totalise is a fascinating recruit to the chasing ranks returning from a 543-day lay-off. He was due to go chasing back in the 2016-17 season so this switch to the larger obstacles should not be considered just as an afterthought. The nod, however, goes to the mare Kelka (3.35) who is herself making a belated seasonal reappearance. The mare has often refused to settle in her races but she made all reverting back to the minimum trip at Newcastle when last seen in March and I expect jockey Brian Hughes to let his mount stride on at the head of affairs.
There is a valuable 10f handicap at Lingfield and Kyllachy Gala (3.10) is taken to go one better than when finishing runner up in this corresponding race last season from a 7lbs higher mark. The widest draw of all in stall six is a slight concern in this competitive contest but there are a couple of potential front-runners in the field and Kieran Shoemark can strike fast and late.