Final day of the Cheltenham November meeting today, with the accent firmly on quality rather than quantity and many clues likely to be found for later in the season.
Main event on the card is the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at 2.25, which has 14 runners and the bookies are going 6-1 the field, an indication of the openness of this contest.
We are going two against the rest, starting with Dame De Compagnie, one of two trained by Nicky Henderson. This 6-y-o missed the whole of last season with a minor injury, but had shown herself to be pretty smart during her novice season, including a Listed hurdle victory on this course. Her absence makes it difficult for the handicapper and it just could be that a mark of 132 is a ‘gimme’. Have an each way bet at 13-2.
Our other pick, from slightly left field, is Torcello, trained by Sean Lycett.
Better known as a Flat racer, in which sphere it has a rating of 88, Torcello is handicapped on its Oirish hurdles form and there is no doubt that Mr Lycett has wrought considerable improvement out of the horse. Added to that is the fact that the deeper the ground the better, this looks a decent punt at a juicy 14-1.
Televised action starts at 1.15 with the race that is redolent of Walt Disney‘s most famous creation and regular readers will know well how to spell ‘anathema’, so, instead of covering that we’ll have a go at the opening race on the card at 12.45.
The Cheltenham Club Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle has a field of 17 and features a David Pipe ‘plot’ horse in the shape of Duc De Beauchene, which is on offer at a very skinny 11-4. Not seen since finishing tailed off at Punchestown in May, we’ll oppose it with each way bets on Don’t Shout at 8-1 and MC Alpine at 13-2 – so there.
The Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices Chase at 1.50 features a re-match between Al Dancer and Getaway Trump, who met 3 weeks ago, with AD beating GT by just over 5 lengths. However, Paul Nicholls‘ runner was quite badly in need of the run that day, and with a 3lb pull we confidently expect a reversal. Get stuck in at 6-4.
The Shloer Chase at 2.25 has just four runners, but oozes class with 3 potential top notchers and the outsider, Simply Ned trying to win this for the sixth time.
We side with Philip Hobbs‘ pride and joy Defi Du Seuil, getting weight from all its rivals and more forward than when making seasonal debut last year. 13-8 looks a fair price and should be taken.
Finally at 3.30 the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices Hurdle has an elite field of five, all of which can be given a chance.
We were very impressed with the stable debut of Scardura, more for the manner of the victory rather than what was beaten, although the second horse has won easily since. Thus, at 5-1 this looks the value bet here.
Have a good day, peeps.
Dame De Compgnie 3.00 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 13-2
Torcello 3.00 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 14-1
Don’t Shout 12.45 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 8-1 (5 places)
MC Alpine 12.45 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 13-2 (5 places)
Getaway Trump 1.50 Cheltenham 4pts win @ 6-4
Defi Du Seuil 2.25 Cheltenham 4pts win @ 13-8
Scardura 3.30 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 5-1