Six juveniles will go to post for the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday with five of the half-dozen trained by Aidan O’Brien although two of the quintet Louisiana and Innisfree are also engaged at Saint-Cloud on Saturday. Mogul who is BetVictor’s 8/1 second favourite for the Derby in June is BetVictor’s 1/2 market leader but there may be a rule 4 if two of his stablemates are diverted to France.
There is rain forecast to hit most of Britain today with Cheltenham and Doncaster forecast at noon on Thursday to get substantial amounts before and during today’s cards. I have presumed that conditions will be no better than good to soft at both tracks.
Cheltenham’s two-day Showcase meeting starts with a novice hurdle over 2m 5f and Gordon Elliot attempts to win a fifth successive hurdle with his 6-year-old Braid Blue following a hat-trick of wins at Perth and one at Ffos Las over the summer. He carries just 8lbs worth of penalties as does No Hidden Charges of Neil Mulholland who has a hat-trick of wins on good ground over the summer.
Colin Tizzard’s horses have been coming on for the run so far this season – see Golden Sunrise at Exeter earlier in the week – but the hope is they have the promising L’Air Du Vent (2.00) ready first time out. The selection was in the process of running a big race when coming down three out in his sole Irish point and was an impressive winner of a Bangor-on-Dee Bumper on good ground back in the spring when readily justifying odds on favouritism. He is an exciting prospect.
Both Getaway Trump (16s at BetVictor) and Al Dancer (2.35) – 25/1 with BetVictor – are considered potential winners of the Arkle Trophy at next year but it is the latter who I hope makes a winning chase debut in the valuable novices’ chase.
Getaway Trump was rated 4lbs higher over hurdles than the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained grey who disappointed in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on his last start but had won his previous four starts over hurdles including the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot – rearranged from Newbury.
There isn’t much of Getariver, but Dan Skelton’s mare is unbeaten in three starts – one point and two Bumpers – and must go close. A market move for Nicky Henderson’s Fred would be worth noting but Ship Of The Fen (4.20) was rated 80+ on the flat, acts on soft ground and represents the Ian Williams yard who can get them ready first time out. He gets the each way vote in what promises to be a most informative contest.
Clondaw Rigger must go well from the foot of the weights in the Amateur Riders’ event but Garrane (4.55) represents the inform Jeremy Scott yard and he hinted on more than one occasion last season – especially when behind Glen Forsa at Chepstow – that he could make his mark over the larger obstacles.
At Doncaster Caravan Of Hope (4.10) was well on top at the line in an Ascot maiden over 12f on soft ground last time, giving every impression he would appreciate a stiffer test of stamina. The selection runs over an additional quarter mile today and Andrea Atzeni is a positive booking.
Over at Newbury Bright Eyed Eagle (1.40) was no match for Convict – landed the nap at Newmarket earlier in the week – at Redcar on debut but he ran on very well to finish second and is taken to go one better for Ed Walker. That effort was on good ground and his ability to handle today’s forecast soft ground must be taken on trust.
Frankie Dettori takes over in the saddle on Mishriff (2.15) who was slowly away and not knocked about at Yarmouth on debut over 7f. The step up to a mile should suit and this well-bred colt can leave that form behind.
Hamish (3.25) was hugely impressive at York last time and it would be disappointing if he wasn’t able to make it four wins in his last five starts for William Haggas in the valuable Conditions event.