Nicky Henderson reports Santini – runner up in the RSA Chase after an interrupted preparation on his last start – will make his seasonal reappearance at Sandown on Sunday in their Intermediate chase. Santini is 8/1 for the Gold Cup back at Cheltenham in March with BetVictor and that is one point longer than Lostintranslation who put in an exemplary round of jumping when making a winning comeback at Carlisle on Sunday.
Lostintranslation would be my favourite horse in training but I’m not convinced he will get the three-and-a-quarter mile Gold Cup trip and the Betfair Chase later in the month – 2/1 at BetVictor – and the King George – 7/1 at BetVictor – on Boxing Day look more realistic targets at this stage.
The first Tuesday in November means it is Melbourne Cup Day in Australia and Haldon Gold Cup Day at Exeter where six go to post for the feature race of the year at the Devon track. Lalor won first time out last season and looked a potential star on that occasion when scoring at Cheltenham. His form tailed off in the second half of the season, however, and he has a bit to prove at present although he has an excellent record fresh.
God’s Own won the corresponding race 12 months ago but the forecast soft ground is a concern and I am hopeful that Charbel (2.10) can run a big race for the inform Kim Bailey yard despite disappointing at Chepstow on his reappearance. The each way selection – 7/1 at BetVictor – may find this extended 2m 1f trip on the sharp side but David Bass looks sure to make this a decent test.
Cat Tiger (1.10) finished runner up on his British debut at Worcester and he is taken to go one better for Paul Nicholls and Corinthian owner David Maxwell who is also in the saddle. A big run from Olly The Brave at Hereford on Monday would boost confidence in the selection.
The 3m Handicap Chase is a competitive affair and the each way vote goes to Moving In Style (3.10) who should enjoy underfoot conditions, has run well fresh in the past and has his first start for Robert Walford. The booking of Sam Twiston-Davies would suggest a big run is expected.
It could be a big day for Kim Bailey whose Those Tiger Feet makes his handicap debut after disappointing over timber last season. It should be worth noting that the selection won his Bumper on soft ground first time out and was held in high regard. A check of the market is advised but hat-trick seeking Guardia Top (3.40) looks well handicapped at present and gets the vote for Nigel Hawke. The 3-y-old was a comfortable winner at Chepstow last week and is taken to defy her 7lbs penalty.
At Fairyhouse I’m looking forward to the reappearance of Honeysuckle (1.20) who was forced to miss the Cheltenham Festival through injury but did win a Grade 1 company at Punchestown on Easter Monday. The Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is likely to be her main target this season and she is taken to maintain her unbeaten record under BetVictor brand ambassador Rachel Blackmore.
Barry Geraghty rides at Exeter which allows Mark Walsh to take the ride on hurdling newcomer Andy Dufresne (1.50) who is unbeaten having won his sole point and Bumper. He is held in some regard by the Gordon Elliot yard and the stable have an embarrassment of talented novice hurdle riches this term.