The second day of Cheltenham’s International meeting is today’s highlight and in the 2m 4f novice chase Mister Fisher looks sure to go close having finished second to Torpillo at Warwick on his chase debut. That run was over the minimum trip and he gave the impression today’s extra half a mile would see him in an even better light.
Good Boy Bobby jumped out to his right at Wetherby last time which is a cause for concern, and I am going to give the vote to the chasing newcomer Champagne Platinum (12.45) a stablemate of Mister Fisher. Nicky Henderson’s grey won his first couple of starts over timber last season before disappointing when upped in grade at Punchestown. A winning pointer in his native Ireland he gets the narrow vote in what promises to be a most informative contest.
Top-weight Destrier (1.20) jumped out to his left when third in the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and a return to a left-hand track should suit. The Grade 1 he finished third at Aintree back in the spring was a poor renewal, but he is only six, open to further improvement and looks sure to give a bold show. He gets the each way vote with the dead eight going to post.
Antepost favourite Riders Onthe Storm was taken out of the big betting race of the day the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup as a result of an administrative error on Friday which is a huge blow to connections. Note BetVictor are refunding all losing bets on the horse.
My two against the field in this 15-runner handicap are Not That Fuisse and Good Man Pat (1.55) with marginal preference for the latter. The selection has never won going right-handed and ran a good race in the circumstances when fourth at Ascot over 3m. I am convinced this 2m 4f is his optimum trip and, although he has yet to produce his best form in big fields, I believe there is a big race to be won with him this term. At 10/1 with BetVictor he gets the each way vote – 4 places.
In the Grade 2 International Hurdle the dual Grade 1 winner Pentland Hills (3.05) puts his unbeaten record on the line and he gets the vote for Nicky Henderson who also saddles Call Me Lord who is racing left-handed for the first time in Britain.
The selection caused a 20/1 shock when landing the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham before showing that was no fluke when following up in the G1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree where he got up close home to beat Fakir D’oudairies. The latter has created a favourable impression over fences so far this season for Joseph O’Brien.
Elxir De Nutz and Gumball should ensure there is an end-to-end gallop which will suit the selection who can be keen in his races and a good pace should help him settle. Four-year-olds often struggle to make an impression against their elders, but the ill-fated Espoir d’Allen showed it is not impossible when landing the Champion Hurdle back in the spring.
In the finale Dame De Compagnie (3.40) gave the impression she would appreciate a step back up in trip when staying on into fifth returning from a 577-day lay-off in the Greatwood Hurdle last month. The selection should appreciate returning to a mares’ only contest and she gets the vote at 11/4 with BetVictor.
In the opener at Doncaster Pagero (11.50) escapes a penalty for winning a conditional jockey’s event at Huntingdon on Sunday and will be hard to beat if in the same mood despite dropping back in distance by half a mile. He looks sure to be hiked up by at least 10lbs when reassessed and he does hold an entry at Fakenham on Tuesday.
The O’Neill team who saddle Pagero also team up with Sky Pirate (1.00) who would surely have won at Ascot last time had he not compromised his chance by constantly jumping out to his left last time over 2m 5f. This return to a left-hand track should suit a horse who is due a change of luck.
At Hereford One Style was improving at a rate of knots when last seen over 600-days ago and he represents the inform yard of Venetia Williams. He must go close, but I am sweet on the chance of Benechenko (3.00) who got going too late when a close fourth on his reappearance. This stiffer test should suit, and he represents another inform yard, that of Fergal O’Brien.
At Carlisle on Sunday Cloudy Glen (1.20) was beaten 13l on his reappearance but that doesn’t tell the whole story as he was clear at today’s trip (2m 4f) before fading over three miles at Exeter. No surprise to see Venetia Williams drop his six-year-old back down in trip today and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race. The Nicky Richards-trained Chapel Stile looks the danger having run a cracker over C&D on his return from a long break.