Colin Tizzard reported on Thursday that his Grade 1 winning novice chaser Slate House is likely to contest the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday where he is likely to lock horns with Santini and Bristol de Mai. The novice is 6/1 from 7s with BetVictor for this established Gold Cup trial with Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter also well supported (8s from 9/1). Santini remains 5/4 market leader.
The ground was given as good to soft – soft in places – at Doncaster at noon on Thursday ahead of their two-day meeting which begins with a seven-race card this afternoon. In the opening two-and-a-half-mile novices’ handicap chase I have been waiting for Pogue to run on some decent ground since he caught a tarter in the shape of Almazhar Garde at Catterick from a 1lb lower mark last time out. The problem, however, is the form of the Donald McCain yard.
Yes, Minella Trump ran OK at Catterick earlier in the week but I am convinced he is better than that and others from the stable have clearly run below par in recent weeks. As a result, Pogue is reluctantly overlooked although I will be having a close check on the market to see if there is stable confidence behind the grey.
The vote goes to winning pointer Est Illic (12.40) who ran an excellent race over today’s C&D in a decent novice chase last time and will appreciate the switch to handicap company. It should be pointed out that trainer Tom Symonds is another who is struggling for winners of late although Song For Someone ran a cracker for the yard when second at Ascot at the weekend.
In the listed juvenile hurdle Galice Macalo (2.25) is taken to make amends for her last flight fall at Aintree when neck and neck with Midnight’s Gift who reopposes on 5lbs worse terms. The filly had not been asked for maximum effort at the time of her departure and the hope is that fall will not have dented her confidence. Alan King’s Midnight’s Gift has since finished runner up to the progressive Henderson filly Marie’s Rock and she looks the main danger.
The mare France De Reve (2.55) improved on her British debut when she chased home a promising sort of Paul Nicholls – Wild Max – at Taunton and she is entitled to improve again with that experience under her belt. The selection won her sole race in the French provinces on the level and she is taken to take the novices’ hurdle. I shall be taking a close look at the market with regard to Ben Pauling’s newcomer Yabass who is the half-brother to a winning hurdler and was rated in the 80s on the level.
The clash between previous winners Mister Coffey (12.50) and West Cork is a cracker in the opener at Huntingdon and preference for the former is marginal. The former beat the good yardstick Shakem Up’Arry at Newbury on his hurdles debut and first start for the Nicky Henderson yard. The selection is 25/1 at BetVictor for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and gets the vote ahead of the Dan Skelton runner who impressed when scoring over C&D last month.
Palmers Hill (2.35) returns from a 432-day lay-off in the Pertemps qualifier for Jonjo O’Neill but he is taken to reward each way support. The seven-year-old has run well fresh in the past and is currently rated 133. In last year’s final at the Cheltenham Festival you had to be rated 134 to get into the race so I would expect to see a big run from this talented but fragile gelding who will certainly make a chaser next season – if he can be kept off the treatment table. Note BetVictor are betting 4 places on this 15-runner handicap.
Casablanca Mix must give 4lbs to the unbeaten chaser Marie Banrigh (3.05) and that might be beyond Nick Henderson’s representative in the feature Mares’ listed chase. The selection has done us a few favours so far this season and Dan Skelton had a winner at Warwick earlier in the month, having been quiet at the beginning of the year. The mare has been doing all her winning over the minimum trip, but she did win a point over three miles and this easy track should suit as she steps up to two-and-a-half-miles.
At Wolverhampton Padleyourowncanoe (4.45) did us a favour at Lingfield earlier in the week and his 5lbs penalty is largely negated by William Cox’s 5lbs penalty. I would be disappointed if he didn’t back up that win despite the change in surface from polytrack to tapeta.