Quiz question to start today’s preview – we bet you can all sing along with Bob Marley and The Wailers but what is the song’s title?*
Feature race at Cheltenham this afternoon is the Matchbook Exchange Handicap Chase at 3.50, which sees the reappearance of everyone’s favourite horse Frodon, ridden by everyone’s favourite jockey Bryony Frost.
We hate to be party poopers, but we don’t think Frodon can win this off a mark of 164 over a trip which stretches the horse’s stamina to the max.
However, the presence of Paul Nicholls‘s horse has compressed the handicap to a point where half the field of 11 are out of the weights. This includes the favourite, Manofthemountain, which, in any case, will find this a very different cauldron of tuna from mopping up lower grade events at places like Bangor and Taunton.
Our selection for the race is Bob Mahler, who’s name has no connection whatever with the aforementioned iconic singer but you try to find a decent headline every time.
Warren Greatrex‘s 8-y-o likes this course and was progressive last season, ending it with a fine third in the Kim Muir at the Festival meeting. Said by his trainer to be ‘as fit as I can get him’ there are worse 16-1 pokes than this, so we advise an each way bet and hope every little thing’s gonna be all right.
(‘Stop it with the Bob Marley stuff’ Ed.)
The meeting starts with the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at 2.05, an event for 4-y-os, featuring the 3rd in last season’s Triumph Hurdle, Allmankind from the Skelton team. Carrying a Grade 1 penalty and priced up at 15-8, this looks no value and we venture an each way tickle on Nordano after a recent warm up on the Flat. The 10-1 on offer looks better value.
There are just 4 runners in the Matchbook Novices Chase at 2.40 but it’s a tight little affair, with all four in with a chance. Our chance is taken with the only runner not to have run over fences before and that is Pileon, trained by Philip Hobbs.
A Pointing background and excellent Novice hurdle form last season says this 6-y-o could be pretty good and we suggest you, er, pile on at 15-8.
There’s a field of 18 in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at 3.00 and while there is perhaps no stand out bet like Captain Tom Cat in it, we like the chances of Tobefair at 7-1 and Ballon Onabudget at 12-1. Each way both, of course.
The cameras are also at the meetings at Doncaster and Newbury this afternoon and three of the races are of interest for betting purposes.
The Listed Doncaster Stakes at 1.45 sees the reappearance of Just Frank, which looked a ‘monster’ last time out when destroying a big field in a Sales race at Newmarket on soft ground. Blasting out of the gate, this gelding made all to win by over 4 lengths and a repeat is on the cards. Take the 5-2.
Over at Newbury, where the ground will be hock deep, we have each way selections in both the televised races.
In the Horris Hull Stakes at 3.35 we like John Gosden‘s Existent as a likely big improver who will handle the going and recommend an each way bet at 5-1, while in the St Simon Stakes at 4.10 we are keen on Litigator, now stepping back up to its winning trip on going he will love. 7-1 each way for this one.
Bob Mahler 3.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (4 places Skybet/Hills)
Nordano 2.05 Cheltenham 0.5pts e/w @ 10-1 (2 places)
Pileon 2.40 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 15-8
Tobefair 3.15 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 7-1 (6 places Skybet/Hills)
Ballon Onabudget 3.15 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (6 places Skybet/Hills)
Just Frank 1.45 Doncaster 4pts win @ 5-2
Existent 3.35 Newbury 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1
Litigator 4.10 Newbury 1.5pts e/w @ 7-1
* ‘Three Little Birds’ (1977)