As ever a big welcome to the Saturday Preview for this week, which was originally planned for Doncaster and the Vertem Futurity Trophy Day. However, due to the weather casting doubt over both Doncaster and Newbury meetings, I’ve decided to turn my attention to Cheltenham and the second day of their Showcase Meeting.
The first race of the day gets underway at 2:00 and is a Handicap Chase that’s ridden over three miles and a furlong. The one I’ve taken a chance on in this competitive looking affair is the Colin Tizzard trained WEST APPROACH who’s set to be ridden by Robbie Power. He ran a very solid race when third in this race last year off a three pounds higher and will appreciate the deteriorating ground. If he gets into a rhythm with his jumping he could well prove to be a big player.
Next up is the 2:35 which is a Class 2 Hurdle race over just over two miles. I think this particular affair can go to the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained TORPILLO who’s the mount of Daryl Jacob. He created a good impression in the winter last term with some dominant displays and got off to the perfect start this season with a win at Chepstow earlier this month. The weather forecast will play into his strengths also as the softer the ground gets it should be no issue. As the market suggests, I think he’ll put in a bold showing here. Quel Destin looks a chief threat on his Grade 1 form from last season and one that looks most interesting is Irish raider Soviet Pimpernel.
The third race gets underway at 3:10 and this is the Randox Health Handicap Chase, a Class 2 contest over two miles. Saint Calvados heads affairs here in what looks another competitive looking contest and he sets a pretty solid standard on his form from last season, and is a horse that seems to do better in the early stages of the year. I’m taking him on though with one at a slightly bigger price and that’s the Paul Nicholls trained BRELAN D’AS who sports the JP McManus silks and will be ridden by Barry Geraghty. He put in an impressive display when finishing third here in the Grand Annual at The Festival and returns to the course off a feasible looking mark. Connections also won this race last year with Modus.
Onto the 3:45 which is a Pertemps Qualifier over three miles and I think this race can go to THECLOCKISTICKING for Stuart Edmunds and Ciaran Gethings. He arrives here off the back of a wind operation and if that brings out improvement in him he could well prove to be on a very handy looking mark here. He was fourth in this race last year and switched back to hurdles you’d have to think that he’s capable of going well in this for a second year.
I’ve actually skipped the 4:20 as it’s a small field and a contest I couldn’t really find a betting angle on and gone straight to the 4:55 which is where I will conclude my preview for the afternoon. This race is a Novices’ Chase over two miles and four furlongs and there’s a whole host of smart horses at the top of the market which includes Secret Investor, Future Assignment and Pym. All of these are more than capable of winning this but all have a slight question mark in regards to soft ground. Because of this, I’ve taken a chance on Colin Tizzard’s SLATE HOUSE who’s due to be ridden by Robbie Power. He was well held in the Arkle here at The Festival when seemingly out of his depth, and in general, has lost his way recently. However, he does have form on soft ground and also at this course as he got the better of Summerville Boy here back in November 2017. He was a very well thought of sort and has shown some signs of ability recently, notably on penultimate start. If on a going day there’s every chance he could play a part.