Cheltenham were forced to cancel today’s feature card, the opening day of the November meeting but they are still hopeful that the track will pass an inspection on Friday for BetVictor Gold Cup Day tomorrow. At the time of writing there is no decision as to what races – if any – will be transferred to Saturday or Sunday although the executive remain optimistic that racing will go ahead over the weekend.
No problems expected at Newcastle today where I hope to see Chanting Hill (1.05) race more prominently than was the case on her rules debut when she shaped with promise when staying on nicely into fourth. A winning pointer in Ireland the stable of Neil Alexander have hit top form in recent days and I think she will go close in the mares’ maiden hurdle. She gets the each way vote.
Bryony Frost was booked for Ellarna for Paul Nicholls before the news of Cheltenham’s cancellation and the trainer was positive about her prospects this term in a recent interview with the Racing Post. She is likely to go off a short price one would imagine but I think the Alexander mare might represent the value.
Only four go to post for the 2m Handicap Chase but they all hold realistic chances and the form of The King Of May’s recent Sedgefield win was given a boost when the runner up – Esprit Du Large – scored at Exeter earlier in the week.
The vote, however, goes to last week’s Chepstow winner Simply The Betts (2.50) who ran out a cosy winner on his reappearance although his task was made easier by the fatal last fence fall of Way Out West at the last. Harry Whittington has always thought plenty of his 6-year-old who finished in mid-division in the Supreme Novices Hurdle of 2018.
As well as riding Ellarna for Nicholls in the mares’ race Frosty also rides Jeremy Pass (3.25) in the Bumper for Nicholls and I hope this well bred four-year-old can make a winning rules debut. The selection was a close second when coming down at the last in his sole point and cost £100,000 at the sales back in March. Note Nicholls described the selection as “a lovely stamp of a horse – you look at him and think he’s our future.”
In the opener at Southwell Grand Coureur (12.50) had no chance against a very well handicapped rival – Heavenly Promise who has followed up at Uttoxeter back over timber – at Sedgefield last time but can run from the same mark today and gets on very well with Ross Turner.
Joseph O’Brien has one of the market leaders – Us And Them – in the BetVictor Gold Cup tomorrow but, back on the level, he saddles the well-bred debutante Bombshell (5.15) in the five-furlong juvenile maiden. The filly cost 575,000 Euros at a breeze up in the spring but she missed the whole of the turf season. Wayne Lordan takes the ride and, if she gets out on terms from stall one, she is a fascinating newcomer.
In the BetVictor Lengthen The Odds Maiden O’Brien has been less fortunate and his Grandmaster Flash (6.15) is drawn out wide in stall 16, but it doesn’t look the strongest of maidens and I would expect Declan McDonagh can get the selection into a decent position by the first bend.
The three-year-old was no match for El Misk in a decent handicap at Kempton last time but that was in a much better race and connections will be disappointed if he can’t shed his maiden tag at the ninth time of asking although he has finished runner up in five of his previous eight starts. He will have few better opportunities.