Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cheltenham Open meeting 2010 - Sunday

A few notes on Sunday's card... The official going for Saturday's races was good to soft, good in places but it was noticeable that several finished very tired; the two handicap chases were both won by horses that made all from the front.

Sunday's feature is the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at 2.20 in which 18 are set to face the starter. Khyber Kim came of age to win this under a big weight last year and then went on to finish a fine second to Binocular in the Champion Hurdle last March. Philip Hobbs will be hoping his Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Menorah can prove to be just as good. Nicky Henderson's charge General Miller beat Menorah a head at level weights at Aintree in April, having the misfortune to fall at the first in the Supreme. On a strict interpretation of the form the Henderson horse should come out on top in receipt of five pounds but that Aintree performance from Menorah still looks very good - there isn't much between them. Olofi catches the eye towards the bottom of the handicap following a decent show at Chepstow but four-year-olds have a poor record in the race with just one win in the past decade while by contrast five-year-olds have won on six occasions.

The opener is interesting and should prove useful for future reference. Kilmurry won here last month (Ghizao 11 lengths second) while Captain Chris tries fences for the first time after finishing second to Silviniaco Conti in the Persian War at Chepstow. A feature of SC's performance that day was the speed at which he jumped his hurdles - Paul Nicholls had intended to send his charge novice chasing but that all changed with the benefit of hindsight and it's now the Hobbs team who have opted for the chasing route. Philip Hobbs has said of CC, 'I sincerely hope and believe he could turn out to be very, very good.' The gelding was reported to have made a noise after winning at Kempton in March and I see he wears a tongue tie for the first time tomorrow. On official ratings Radium is weighted to have the beating of Kilmurry but the one with the most experience over the larger obstacles is Loosen My Load trained in Ireland by Henry De Bromhead. By coincidence Kilmurry was formerly trained by De Bromhead - the Weekender reports that when both horses were in the same yard Loosen My Load was considered the better animal. A fascinating contest awaits.

I was prepared to consider Tataniano as a play against Forpadydeplasterer in the 1.45 provided, of course, the price was big enough - on official ratings Paul Nicholls' gelding has plenty to find at the weights. Unfortunately the layers have the two protagonists pretty evenly matched and as a result there's little value to be had. A note in the Weekender indicates Tataniano wouldn't want it too testing, so that's another plan scuppered; apparently owners The Stewart Family have the Tingle Creek at Sandown in their sights...

In the concluding bumper I shall keep a close eye on Milton Harris' gelding Rose Of The Moon. This one was described in a recent stable tour article as 'an exceptional prospect' and he showed plenty of fighting spirit to hold Emma Lavelle's well-regarded Koup De Kanon a neck at Uttoxeter last time; the stewards had a look afterwards but allowed the grey to keep the race.

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