Santini puts his Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day on Saturday and Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old, who scrambled home at Sandown on his reappearance, has been cut from 7/4 to 5/4 with BetVictor for the Grade 2 contest.
Gordon Elliot has entered Delta Work, 3/1 with BetVictor, but he is not a certain runner. Delta Work finished behind Santini in the RSA Chase at last year’s Festival, but the Irish raider did win the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Soft ground is the order of the day at Warwick and in the extended three-mile handicap chase High Counsel is chasing a hat-trick having scored at Southwell and at today’s track from a 6lbs lower mark in a Veteran’s Chase here on New Year’s Eve.
The vote, however, goes to From The Heart (2.10) who won despite jumping out to his left at Taunton last time and he is entitled to improve for the experience given it was only his second start over fences. The selection is 7lbs higher today, but the further he went the better he went last time and today’s step up in trip should suit.
The 3m 2f Handicap Hurdle is a cracker. Good And Hardy and Golden Sovereign are closely matched on previous form so far this season and Terrierman lost nothing in defeat at Doncaster last time. The vote, however, goes to the mare Flowing Cadenza (2.40) who steps out of novice company having won a handicap at Ascot from a 7lbs lower mark last time over three miles. The selection is very stoutly bred and promises to be at least as effective over today’s additional quarter mile.
At Catterick O Connell Street (1.20) has had his wind operated on since he was last seen back in the spring when he ran two fair races in good ground Bumpers. The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old is a half-brother to last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner City Island and this near two-and-a-half-mile trip should suit for his hurdles debut.
Spirit Of Hale looks well handicapped on his best form and a market move for Jennie Candlish’s nine-year-old would be worth noting in his first-time market. The vote, however, goes to recent course winner Ask Paddy (1.55) who made all here earlier in the month from a 6lbs lower mark. He will be a tough but to crack if in the same mood.
The feature race is the two-and-a-half mile limited novices’ chase and you can give all seven horses a realistic chance. Return Ticket drops in class and the Ruth Jefferson yard are in excellent form but I just favour Before Midnight (2.30) who jumped left, but led two out, over a longer trip at Leicester on his chase debut. He gets the verdict, but it is a cracking race for the track.
The unbeaten Minella Trump (3.00) has won both starts under rules and could have been let in lightly for his hurdles debut having also won his sole point-to-point. The Donald McCain yard have been hitting the bar of late and could certainly do with a winner.
There is a good card at Kempton this evening and it could be another good night for Charlie Appleby who saddles the newcomer Stormy Mountain (5.30) in the first division of the 7f maiden. The filly is the first foal of a winner on the flat in Australia and Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle with William Buick and James Doyle out in Meydan.
The stable have been among the winners in Dubai and also Wolverhampton in recent days and she has a decent draw in stall five. Those with racecourse experience don’t look anything special and fellow debutante Alamora might be the danger although she is fitted with a hood for her first start.
Colin Tizzard has a rare runner on the level at Lingfield and Paddleyourowncanoe (2.20) looks potentially well treated back on the flat from a mark of 60. Hollie Doyle takes the ride in this 2m handicap and the selection is rated some 80lbs higher over jumps. The six-year-old stays three miles over jumps and, if his outstanding jockey can get him out of the stalls on terms, he looks sure to run a big race.