Yesterday was close, but no coconuts, although there was a huge amount of cheering here at the Chateau D’If for Beau de Brizais, who opened at 40s, behaved exactly as predicted and halved in price. I regret not suggesting the forecast, but then [a] I would have been a genius and [b] I couldn’t have picked the Cross Country winner in a month of Sundays. Tiger Roll never looked in the race, but the pre-race ramping that went on by the ITV team could only have one outcome. “He’s Britain’s favourite horse… they hold lots to lead him around… he’s not just a hero here, he’s…!” Stop it you numpties, you really aren’t doing the cause of Racing any good. Supposing he’d done a leg or some other truly awful outcome? Wait until he’s won; manage people’s expectations, and for heaven’s sake don’t ask Robbie Power who immediately talked about retirement. Such is the world of O’Ryanair O’Leary that your seat onboard is lost pretty damned quickly if you make any mistakes. Tiger Roll will be OK I’m sure and it’s nothing that a couple of months with the Ward Union, decent grub and a nice warm box wouldn’t put right. God knows we all feel better for that.
Talking of close but no coconuts, here are today’s TV tips and the two opening races from Cheltenham
The weatherman is suggesting some 200mm of rain between 6am and 3pm. I think it will go to soft ground by The Paddy Power at 2:15.
12:30 CHELTENHAM JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hdl (Registered As The Prestbury Juvenile Hdl) (G2) Cl1 (3yo) 2m½f
HELL RED turned his juvenile hurdle at Chepstow into a 12l rout and the form drill-down from that race has already seen one winner, with their next race also producing further winners. That suggests that Chepstow was a very decent debut and it explains his impossibly short price. The stats aren’t much help, so for the value, I looked at ADAGIO – a French Flat winner sent to Pipey to see how he’d do. The answer was alright, but he might just be a handicapper. You can get 5/1 now, but I’d be quick if you fancy him. DUFFLE COAT has already met CABOT CLIFFS and duffed him up to the tune of 8l. That’s three wins now to his name and he’ll be suited by the strong pace I suspect will be seen. It’s between them
1:05 CHELTENHAM South West Syndicate Hcap Chs Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 3m1f
Looking through this lot, I really don’t think there any surprises to be found. Indeed a number of these like ARTHUR’S GIFT and PETITE POWER actually seem to be going backwards. When in doubt check out the top-weight. KILFILUM CROSS was 2nd in the Kim Muir, probably the best form on view and is race fit.
KILFILUM CROSS Win
1:40 CHELTENHAM From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chs (G2) (Registered As The November) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m
The talking horse here is FUSIL RAFFLES who was never very spectacular over hurdles. Decent, but not spectacular. However, Chasing has seen him winning both here and at Uttoxeter before that. He is now rated 2lb better than his hurdle mark. But a little stat landed in my lap which points out that 14 of the last 15 winners were either making their chasing debut or had only one chase race. That would seem to count against FUSIL RAFFLES and support QUEL DESTIN. QD is rated 155 over hurdles, and had a pipe opener at Bath on the Flat at Bath last month off 68. He ran there because Paul Nicholls has publically stated that he is hard to get fit AND he needs soft ground. The only other horse to meet my single stat is also fancied by the market ELDORADO ALLEN who fiddled the last at Newton Abbott last month to win his race.
QUEL DESTIN – ELDORADO ALLEN both Dutch to win
2:15 CHELTENHAM Paddy Power Gold Cup Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f
I wonder whether my shortlist of seven is really that short. HAPPY DIVA won this last year and is toting 8lb more. She’s now on better terms with SIMPLY THE BETTS who beat her 1¼l in the 2½m Handicap at the Festival. It’s still an ask and that is reflected in the price. SKY PIRATE is getting weight from the entire field and this race has been the target for Jonjo for some time. SKY PIRATE can be a clumsy ox sometimes, but he has never won a chase and he needs to improve hugely. I have talked myself down to five and they are BRELAN D’AS, SIRUH DU LAC and SAINT SONNET. I can narrow that down by checking the trainers’ records here, and Paul Nicholls has an exceptional record in this race – and is on song at the moment.
SAINT SONNET Win – BRELAND D’AS e/w – Add HAPPY DIVA and SKY PIRATE for a 12 x ½pt combination FC
2:50 CHELTENHAM Paddy Power Games Hcap Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
I think you need something fairly low down the handicap – according to the trends carrying less than 11st – and I have selected DANDY DAN and GOLAN FORTUNE. The latter won this last year and is only 2lb worse off this year. He ran decently to come a 3¼l 4th to Unowhatimeanharry at Aintree last week. DANDY DAN hasn’t jumped a hurdle since April 2018 but is useful over fences. He ran well to come second at Sedgefield in a 3m5f handicap and most importantly this is is his second start after having his breathing fixed.
GOLAN FORTUNE e/w – DANDY MAN e/w
3:05 LINGFIELD (AW) POLYTRACK Betway Churchill Stakes Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f
I can’t go against DUBAI WARRIOR back on Polytrack. He’s won the Winter Derby here (he’s 2/2 on Lingfield AWT) and despite being off for a summer break, he’ll turn up fit and ready.
DUBAI WARRIOR Win
3:25 CHELTENHAM Paddy Power First Millionaire Qualifier Intermediate Hcap Hdl Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m5f
3:40 LINGFIELD (AW) POLYTRACK Betway Golden Rose Stakes Cl1 (3yo+) 6f
If Silvestre De Sousa, the master of front-riding finishes, can keep LAMPANG up front, he could reward at big odds. Ignore his Musselburgh seasonal debut after a 12 months absence, on the ground and over the wrong distance. This smells like an Easterby plot horse. I am also taken by Archie Watson’s brace of 20/1+ runners.
LAMPANG e/w – HIGHLAND DRESS e/w
3:55 CHELTENHAM Karndean Designflooring Mares’ Bumper Cl1 (4-6yo) 2m½f
ELLE EST BELLE was eyecatching at Aintree, and you will have heard me use that phrase before. So let me clarify, lest you think me cliched. She won the race in soft ground by 5½l in a canter. She quickened right away from the favourite in the final furlong. Taken wide, she simply let Windswept Girl have the lead until Harry Skelton took the brake off. The runner-up had won her debut bumper by 13l. That’s what I call eyecatching. MARTELLO SKY is consistent and the price looks too big. She is decently bred and appears on a number of “To Follow” lists.
ELLE EST BELLE Win – MARTELLO SKY e/w