All eyes on Cheltenham today, with the demise of the meetings at Newbury and Doncaster, with the first four races on the card being televised.
It’s not quite the pantomime season yet, but we hope that Harry (Dick) Whittington will have a good day, starting with the Randox Health Handicap Chase at 3.10, in which his representative is Saint Calvados.
This 6-y-o should be the class act in this field and the time to catch it at its best is first time out on soft ground. Expect an attacking ride from Gavin Sheehan to get all the others at it and have a win bet at 3-1.
Harry has two runners in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at 3.45 and we give both of them good chances.
Neverbeen To Paris is a relative newcomer to the yard but ran a stormer on stable debut last time out when staying on strongly to finish second at Stratford over 2m6f, with today’s rival Gunfleet 6 lengths back in fourth. With just a 2lb pull in the weights today we fail to see why NTP is nearly twice the price at 15-2 and suggest an each way bet.
Captain Tommy is Harry‘s other one, not seen since finishing second in a Listed event at Perth in April. Making handicap debut today off a mark of 135, the Captain will revel in the deep stuff and is worth a shot each way at 12-1.
Opening race at 2.00 is the “Matchbook Betting Exchange” Handicap Chase and just why the first three words are in inverted commas only the executive knows.
16 stand their ground for this 3m1f slog and our first choice is David Bridgwater‘s Irish import The Conditional, ridden by Tommy (Boom Boom) Cannon.
This 7-y-o has some flashy chase form on its CV from Oirland and made a very encouraging start to life with Bridgy when third in a non-handicap at Warwick. A mark of 131 looks a tad tasty and we recommend an each way bet at 10-1.
Also in this race we really must suggest a minor investment on our own, our very own runner Bob Mahler. Fresh from a break, in rude health at home and one of the youngest horses in the field, Bob may be an improver this season and, at 20-1 is worth a punt.
The Masterson Holdings Hurdle at 2.35 completes the televised coverage and this race looks at the mercy of The Twister‘s runner Torpillo.
Anyone seeing this 4-y-o cruise home in the mud at Chepstow two weeks ago would hesitate to oppose it today under similar conditions, so we won’t. Have a good bet at 11-8.
OK, now over to the egg chasers.
Saint Calvados 3.10 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 3-1
Neverbeen To Paris 3.45 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 15-2
Captain Tommy 3.45 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1
The Conditional 2.00 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 10-1 (5 places)
Bob Mahler 2.00 Cheltenham 0.5pts e/w @ 20-1 (5 places)
Torpillo 2.35 Cheltenham 6pts win @ 11-8