Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cheltenham Open meeting 2010 - Friday

Very quick thoughts on tomorrow's card...

Eleven are declared for the feature, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase run over three miles seven furlongs. This evening the going on this course is reported as good to firm, good in places. J P McManus owns and Enda Bolger trains three of the runners - Garde Champetre, Heads Onthe Ground and Freneys Well. Those who believe in horses for courses are likely to be well-acquainted with Garde Champetre who has a great record round here and unsurprisingly has been chalked up a short-priced favourite; the Garde Royale gelding collected the spoils last year ahead of stablemate Heads Onthe Ground and Sizing Australia and is once again reunited with excellent female jockey Nina Carberry. At the weights the Venetia Williams trained Flintoff (owned by Paul Beck and Freddie Flintoff) is bang there with every chance but he's an enigmatic character who in the past has tended to show his best when there is plenty of cut in the ground. Connections expect a decent show from Joe Lively who tries these fences for the first time while Charlie Mann's Mr Big completed the Velka Pardubicka in the Czech Repulbic on his last start and could be overpriced at 33/1 (William Hill, Paddy Power) on ground that is likely to suit.

Whatever Joe Lively's fate in the Cross Country Chase, the Tizzards will be hoping exciting prospect Cue Card can do the business in the 1.50. I still have a soft spot for this horse even though I tipped him at 40/1 for the Cheltenham bumper but then forgot to have a wager myself! Unfortunately Cue Card won't be that price tomorrow and I expect Philip Hobbs' Dunraven Storm to be a lot closer to the winner than he was last March. Irish runner Ballyadam Brook is of interest as is Paul Nicholls' King Of The Knight - Noel Fehily deputises for the injured Ruby Walsh.

The concluding novice chase looks a cracker and should provide some pointers for the season ahead - Weird Al (Ian Williams) dead-heated with Little Josh (Nigel Twiston-Davies) in last year's running. Time For Rupert, second in the World Hurdle to Big Buck's, tries fencing for the first time, as does David Pipe's Mr Thriller and Nick Williams' Reve De Sivola. I'm considering an each-way investment in a couple of outsiders - the marvellously-named The Giant Bolster (16/1 with bet365 this evening) won the Fred Rimell Memorial Novices' Chase at Worcester just over three weeks ago but jumped right-handed at the final two flights and Hell's Bay, another from Colin Tizzard's yard. I put this one up at a price for the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase last month - he was bang there with two to jump but faded badly to finish fifth. Initially I thought that's another of my hopeless longshots down the pan but a few days later I saw a report in the Racing Post saying the gelding had lost a shoe. Formerly with Paul Nicholls, this one comes with plenty of caveats but he has ability and Colin Tizzard recently reported his charge was now 'as sweet as a nut'; apparently the handler has received several expression of interest from potential owners since the horse has come into the yard. Stan James offers 66/1 this evening - that has to be worth a small each-way interest.

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