News broke yesterday that Master Dino antepost favourite for the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival would miss the race having picked up a hairline fracture of a hind leg at Plumpton at the weekend. Oh, the vagaries of antepost racing.
The Lanzarote Hurdle is Saturday’s big betting race of the day and the early market mover has been for Kloud Gate (9/2 from 6s) with BetVictor representing the inform Gary Moore yard. The novice has won his last couple of starts by an aggregate of 16 lengths but has been raised 19lbs for those two-facile small-field wins. He remains potentially well treated off his revised mark – given his flat rating – but does he have the necessary experience for such a competitive handicap.
The listed 2m 4f Chase is the other highlight and the entries are nothing short of spectacular with last year’s winner Waiting Patiently (5/2 with BetVictor) not even heading the market with Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch and Peterborough Chase winner Charbel heading the market at 2/1 with BetVictor.
In the opener at Taunton this afternoon Chef D’Equipe (1.10) reverts to hurdles and connections look to have found a very good opportunity for the David Maxwell owned and ridden 7-year-old. The selection finished third in a Plumpton hurdle on his British debut and, as a son of Presenting, should appreciate today’s forecast good ground.
This better ground should see an improved show from David Pipe’s juvenile Legal History who is a half-brother to the duel Hong Kong Group 1 winner Pakistan Star. The 4-y-old was rated 80 on the level and shaped with promise when third on his hurdles debut at Newbury although he did show a tendency to jump out to his left in the home straight.
Likely market leader Khage who is another who showed a tendency to jump left at Southwell last time and he looks vulnerable. Winston C did us a favour at Wincanton at the weekend, but I remember noticing Le Ligerien (1.40) travelling like a potential winner for much of the race and it is interesting to see Philip Hobbs bring him out just four days later. I would be disappointed in what looks a weaker race he doesn’t run into a place.
Gwalia ran a cracker over C&D last week when just run down in the shadows of the post by the returning Beltor. The selection has been raised a couple of pounds for that effort, but he can race from the same mark this afternoon. More of a concern is the additional 3f of today’s contest and preference is for Not That Fuisse (2.55) who finished runner up to Al Dancer at Cheltenham over an extended two miles last month. Today’s additional distance should suit Dan Skelton’s 6-y-old who will make an exciting chaser next term.
The first Hunter Chase of the season and Shantou Flyer is a fascinating recruit to the Hunting ranks having been bought privately by David Maxwell. The horse finished runner up at the Cheltenham Festival in the 3m Handicap Chase last March and is still in the care of Richard Hobson.
Uno Mas has won two of his last three and there will be many who feel there may be “one more” win in the five-year-old but preference in the 3m Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster goes to The Manuscript (1.35) who is only 3lbs higher than when scoring at Market Rasen last time. That success was gained on soft ground and the hope is that Jonjo O’Neill’s 6-y-old is at least as effective on a quicker surface.
Duel winning bumper performer Before Midnight (2.10) lost little in defeat behind a decent sort at Kempton back in November and he is taken to go one better for Nicky Henderson this afternoon.