There was heavy rain forecast for Cheltenham on Thursday and the ground is likely to be a mix of good to soft and soft ahead of today’s seven-race card.
The opener sees the hurdles debut of Chantry House (12.10) who cost JP McManus £295,000 last December having won a point in his native Ireland at Tattersalls Farm. The runner up – Envol Pierji – is only rated 120 but it was the selection’s soft-ground Bumper success at Warwick back in March that suggested he might be out of the top drawer.
The runner up on that occasion – Edwardstone – has won both starts over timber this season for Alan King and is rated 142. Chantry House is an exciting hurdling newcomer and soft ground clearly suits. It will be disappointing if he doesn’t run a big race although it won’t be easy with three previous winners in the race although I feel the maiden Shang Tang might be the main danger having shaped with such considerable promise at Chepstow.
Skewiff (1.55) unseated her rider when going off 5/1 favourite for the corresponding mares’ handicap chase 12 months ago and she has dropped to a mark 2lbs lower. The forecast soft ground will suit Evan Williams’s mare who finished behind both Definitelyanoscar and Molly Carew at Kempton last time although the ground looked quicker than ideal for the selection.
Twelve go to post for the BetVictor Handicap Chase and West Approach (7/2 favourite at BetVictor) has every chance of putting behind his early unseat in the Ladbroke Trophy last month when he went off the 13/2 favourite. This is a weaker race, but he is 4lbs higher in the weights and 8lbs higher than when scoring here on his penultimate start.
The each way vote, however, goes to Onefortheroadtom (2.30) who is blinkered for the first time. Aidan Coleman takes the ride on the selection who is 7/1 at BetVictor – who are betting 4 places on the race – and would have a leading chance if the headgear works the oracle.
Dan Skelton saddles two in the concluding 3m handicap hurdle – No Getaway and Kilbricken Storm with Harry Cobden riding the latter – Harry Skelton is suspended – who has a good record fresh and makes his seasonal reappearance this afternoon. A market move would be worth noting.
The each way vote, however, goes to Ask Ben (3.20) who finished fourth at Haydock on his seasonal debut from a 3lbs lower mark and is entitled to come on for the run. He is 5/1 at BetVictor.
There was also heavy rain forecast for Doncaster on Thursday and conditions are likely to be testing for their own seven-race card. Knight In Dubai (1.10) jumped well when scoring at Bangor on his reappearance and he is taken to defy his 6lbs penalty in the novice chase over 2m 3f.
Saint Leo has dropped to an attractive mark and a market move would be worth noting but I thought Mr Scrumpy (1.45) won with a bit in hand at Wetherby last time and a 6lbs rise looks fair enough. Jedd O’Keeffe has his string in good form and this inmate could still be ahead of the handicapper.
Copper Gone West (3.30) had failed to complete in her last three starts prior to running a good race at Market Rasen last time and she is taken to build on that second placed finish. The mare is down to a mark just 1lb above when scoring at Bangor in March and conditional Charlie Price takes off a valuable 5lbs.
There is a nice novices’ hurdle at Bangor and Glockenspiel (2.45) can go one better than when runner up at Uttoxeter on his British/hurdles debut. The selection was a decent sort on the level for Andre Fabre and coped well enough with heavy ground at the Staffordshire track.