Friday 16 November
Time based ground: Good to soft
13:15 Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase
This looked a good renewal. Dynaste jumped impeccable for a novice and won easily. The 5lb he was receiving, was irrelevant in my opinion, as he looked to have more in hand. He is not short of speed and I see no reason for going to the RSA at this stage. It can be a gruelling race and has had a detrimental effect on more than one horse’s career. Fingal Bay deserves plenty of credit for the way he ran. He apparently did not look as well as some which allies to the general form of the stable. He should stay three-miles. His sire is a good influence for stamina while his dam has had one winner at the trip. Unioniste ran a blinder for one so young and inexperienced. One hopes his campaign is mapped out to reflect his promise without over fazing him at this stage of his career. Carlo Brigante probably found the ground on the soft side. He is best on good ground and looks to have a decent handicap in him when conditions are right.
13:50 paddypower.com Handicap Chase
Shooters Wood raced prominently before taking the lead three from home. He jumped well and kept on gamely up the run-in. He is now 2-2 at the track and can win again in a similar grade. Wetak ran a blinder and would have finished closer but for a mistake two from home. He stays two and three-quarter-miles and clearly handles soft to heavy ground. Silver Roque is consistent but may struggle in this grade off his handicap mark. Considering Astracad made several mistakes he did well to finish fourth. This should have sharpened him up. Whilst this trip suits him, he may be worth a try over another half a mile. Kid Cassidy has done well to retain his enthusiasm given the awful electrical incident at Newbury and an equally bone-crunching fall at Lingfield Park. He settled better this time and left the impression he may prove best over further. There is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and I hope he steps up in trip sooner rather than later. Keep an eye on Free World who ran better than his finishing position suggest.
14:25 Opus Energy Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Sharp Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2)
Having stood still for around fifteen second the field lobbed around with Dodging Bullets at the head of affairs. Ruby Walsh controlled the race and the horse deserves credit for pulling out more when challenged. In addition, he was conceding 7lb to the runner-up. This is his trip and we know he handles a faster pace following his fourth in the Triumph Hurdle. He is steadily settling down and improving. In receipt of 7lb, River Maigue ran an excellent race facing hurdles for the first time his career. Considering he looked in need of the run, this augurs well for the future. He jumped and travelled well and would have finished closer had he not been switched after the last. His breeding suggests he will stay two and a half-miles. Court Minstrel travelled like a dream and looked a likely winner turning for home. Unfortunately, he was caught in a barging match approaching the final flight and lost his chance. He would have gone close and is an improving sort. Duke Of Navan is another worthy of further consideration following a promising effort. Tominator will improve when he learns to jump. A handicap job over further perhaps.
15:00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
Balthazar King ran another game race but was unable to hold off the well-supported Uncle Junior. The latter travelled well off the pace. Having taken it up second last, he pulled well clear of his field. Another Jewel and Outlaw Pete ran on when the race was all but over. The latter was having his first run at Cheltenham running in the colours of J P McManus. Sizing Australia reportedly disliked the ground.
15:35 Irish Times Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Buck Magic is game and battled back in a likeable way on the run-in. He stays three-miles and may have further improvement. Angles Hill has an improving profile, while a similar event should come Slew Hill’s way at some stage. Titan De Sarti remains an enigma. Well enough placed through the race, he could find no extra pace when it mattered. Perhaps he needs better ground. He possesses the make-up of one that will “bite us” when least expected. Top Wood went off far too quickly and paid the penalty. Waterunder had a quiet run round on his return to action. He can be expected to do better on his next run. Saint Roque was going well when he was brought down. He looked sure to be involved and will surely win sooner ran than later.
16:05 Bates Hats Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
Swing Bill repeated last year’s win under a good ride from his useful pilot. He should remain competitive in similar events. Sizing Santiago ran well considering he want better ground. Bescot Springs ran a fair race, as did Hunters Lodge who looks as though he will stay further. Jewel Of The West disliked the ground, Triggerman showed some promise, while Alderluck ran more like a pacemaker than a gambled on horse. Jamesie Hall was still going well when departing the fun.
Saturday 17 November
Time based ground: Heavy
12:45 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Grade 2)
Far West and Ruby Walsh dominated the race from start to finish. Setting a sensible pace in the ground, Far West jumped well apart from one or two minor mistakes. He found extra between the two flights when Vasco Du Ronceray was bought to challenge. The pair drew well clear of the field and it rates a good trial. The runner-up ran well but has to be considered slightly disappointing when asked for his final effort. Despite being beaten thirty-three lengths in total, AQPS winner Roc D’Apsis (first run since May) left the impression he will be up to winning races.
13:20 Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase
Timmy Murphy kept Our Father to the wide outside throughout the race. The horse jumped well in the main and once in control, he left the runner-up in his wake. Heavily backed he again showed his effectiveness when fresh. The question now is will he go on from this. Whatever route he takes he will need more experience before he tackles a higher grade. Sire Collonges ran well conceding 8lb to the winner. FSF ratings suggest he ran 10lb below his October win. White Star Line bounced back to form and looks one to land a nice handicap. What A Warrior should make up into a fair handicapper albeit in a lower grade. Sraid Padraig found this too tough as his stage of development. Sea Of Thunder found the ground all against him.
13:55 Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Bradley looked to have been brought with a winning run. However, he was unable to repel the sustained challenge of Monbeg Dawn on the run-in. He stays well handle soft to heavy ground and looks likely to land a decent staying chase this winter. Monbeg Dawn ran out a game winner for his stable who at last appears to be emerging from an extended period in the doldrums. Viking Blond is steadily finding his best form again. He appears equally home over hurdles or fences. FSF ratings suggest good through to soft, over three to three and a quarter-miles, are his ideal conditions. Any Currency was not disgraced on ground softer than he appreciates. Problema Tic ran well enough to suggest he would be winning races this season. Teaforthree made a pleasing return and will likely have one more run before the Welsh National.
14:35 Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3 Handicap)
Al Ferof put a disappointing end of season behind him when taking the Paddy Power Cup in good style. Always travelling kindly for Ruby Walsh, he jumped for fun through the race. Hotly challenged at the last, he found plenty on the run-in to fend off the gallant runner-up. Considering he is best on less testing ground, his performance can be marked up. His Dosage figures suggest three-miles will not prove a problem indeed the Gold Cup itself looks within range. His sire has the likes of Neptune Collonges and Silviniaco Conti on his C.V. while his dam stayed two-miles. He has won or run well at Sandown Park, Ascot, and Taunton, suggesting Kempton Park should not prove a problem. His FSF rating of 147 leaves him 9lb shy of Long Run’s current figure. Walkon on has been raised 5lb for his fine effort in second. That looks fair, though he is another for whom the next outing is crucial. Nadiya De La Vega, a further twelve-lengths away, was far from disgraced in this higher grade. Casey Top ran a fair race, as did Questions Answered. Both would enjoy going back up in trip. Michael Flips ran better then the PU suggest. Hunt Ball disliked the ground, while Grand Crus has been found to have a problem following a second disappointing run. He deserves an honourable mention for bang there until three out when breathing clearly hindered his effort.
15:05 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
Goulanes is an out and out stayer that relished trip and conditions. He looks likely to make up into a decent staying chaser. Cross Kennon returned to form and still looks well treated despite a 5lb weight rise. Monetary Fund and Benbane Head ran to their form but may need to drop to a slightly lower grade. Lovcen was anchored by his weight and looks certain to go novice chasing in the future. Stonemaster is one to note over three-miles in a similar grade.
15:40 Centaur Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
The first three home all came from well off the pace. Ifandbutwhynot eventually ran out an easy winner. Always travelling well he was lucky to avoid trouble at the second last when Canadian Diamond (still going well) unseated his rider. He has been raised 13lb, which looks fair given the amount he appeared to have in hand. Tanerko Emery ran well and should be winning races this season, while Falcarragh showed a return to form in fourth. Able Deputy was always going a stride faster than needed. He hit the second last and eventually faded when headed at the last. He can win races if racing with more restraint. Brick Red faded again and needs an easier track.
Sunday 18 November
Time based ground: Heavy
13:10 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase ((Grade 2)
Captain Conan made an impressive start to his casing career. He jumped and travelled well running on strongly when challenged by the runner-up on the run-in. Considered an out and out two-miler, this was a fine start. The five that followed him home have showed contrasting form but have won nineteen races between them. Sir De Grugy was far from disgraced conceding 5lb. He is a likeable sort and handled the track better than I had thought he would. He should continue to run well and looks one for Kempton Park over Christmas. Third Intention is consistent but lacks the size to make an impact at this level. He would be better off in a handicap. His Excellency dropped away when it all became a bit of an effort. Rebel Rebellion is a good yardstick; he is another that would be better off in a handicap. Inoogoo can win in Class Three/Four grade.
13:45 Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
Double Ross made all to win in good style. He has the look of a useful hurdler/chaser in the making. Close House kept on really well in the closing stages posting a decent effort in defeat. He may now go over fences. His trainer believes there is plenty of improvement to come. Black Benny ran well for one that has won round tight tracks. San Telm is improving steadily, as is Cloudy Bob. Both are worth a try over further. Mart Lane stayed on in a manner that suggests he too, is worth a try over further.
14:20 Shloer Chase
Wishful Thinking ran out an easy winner despite some less than convincing fencing. He is still 11lb below his best on FSF ratings. Doeslessthanme ran as well as he could on respective handicap ratings.
14:50 Racing Post Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap)
Olofi gained an overdue win in a decent handicap. He travelled well and had the race won when Bothy veered across him approaching the last. Quickly switched he jumped the last well and won a shade cosily. A powerful looking horse he may have more to offer. Cash And Go travelled as well as the winner through the race. He was not as fluent as the winner over the final three hurdles but for which it would have been a tight-call. Cause Of Causes stayed on well and appears happiest in big fields (2, 2, 3 in fields of eighteen or more runners). He is an improving sort that can win a decent handicap. Bothy looks back to his best though his handicap mark does not make winning easy. Glam Gerry looks one to keep an eye on when goes back to longer trips over hurdles/fences. Rattan made up a deal of ground from the top of the hill. He is useful and consistent. Prospect Wells looked to bounce on the testing ground. Kazlian will improve as paddock inspection suggested he was in need of the race. The trainer of Domination reported that the gelding had a breathing problem The Stewards ordered the horse to be routine tested.
15:25 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2)
Coneygree, a half-brother to Carruthers made all the running. He followed up a wide-margin win at Uttoxeter in equally impressive style. Piling on the pressure coming down the hill, he kept on strongly when the placed horses attempted to close him down. Initial FSF ratings suggest this was as good a performance as Fingal Bay’s last year. Long-term he has the physical scope to make a high-class chaser. Bondage ran a sound race to finish second. A good marker to the form, his official rating suggests Coneygree has to be considered a leading fancy for his chosen race at the Festival. According To Trev ran well; his official rating confirms the form of the race. Creepy ran a blinder on his hurdling debut. He looks sure to improve considerably and win races. Village Vic looked to have a serious shout on the form of his second to The New One. He was always doing a shade to much and deserves another chance on better ground. Worcester winner Fox Run had every chance two from home but fell in a heap shortly afterwards. Awaywiththegreys seems unable to run two races alike. I Shot The Sheriff had a shout jumping the third-last; however, he was soon pulled-up leaving the impression he had gone wrong.
16:00 Cheltenham Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
Despite starting at 25/1, there was no fluke about Anonis’s win. Always close to the pacesetter, he kicked for home on the home turn and held off the strong challenge of the second. He will run in another Bumper before embarking on a hurdle career. The Liquidator was produced at the right time but could not get past the winner. The pair were well clear of the third, himself a winning Bumper horse, suggesting the form is above average. Penalised Hannibal the Great, snatched third off the promising Fascino Rustico, who travelled well for a long way before weakening on the testing ground. Perfect Candidate is worth keeping an eye on. He came from miles off the pace, despite running green throughout the race. His full-brother won a Bumper and novice hurdle. Clondaw Knight was well-backed but showed disappointingly little in the race itself.