Friday 11th December 2020
A warm welcome to my preview for the first day of the Cheltenham International Meeting that takes place at Prestbury Park this Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be sharing my opinion on the first six races of the Friday card, which include two Graded races with one being the rerouted Peterborough Chase.
As ever, enjoy!
The first race comes up at 11:30 and is Class 3 Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and a furlong. I’ve sided with the Neil Mulholland trained ANY NEWS here at 2/1 who’s the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies. He’s two out of two under rules and got the better of a well fancied rivals by the best of ten lengths when last seen at Bangor back in November. He could well prove a very useful prospect. There’s a whole host of them that are a danger to him here, the most notable probably coming in the form of Paul Nicholls’ Lucky One who was an impressive winner at Southwell last time out.
Moving onto the 12:05 which is a Class 2 Novices’ Chase over three miles and half of a furlong. In this particular contest I like Kim Bailey’s HAPPYGOLUCKY who’s also trading currently at around the 2/1 mark. Set to be ridden by David Bass this horse is a sound jumper and was far from disgraced last time when having his colours lowered by Getaway Trump. He’s also got solid form at the track having finished fourth in the Martin Pipe at The Festival last season and he was also placed in a Grade 2 Novice’s Hurdle here back in November 2019, I think he’s got every chance of a big run. This is a competitive little contest and a case could be made for all five participants, L’Air Du Vent looks a potentially smart chaser for the Tizzards whereas Hold The Note has solid course form. Fabulous Saga has his first run since finishing seventh in the 2018 Albert Bartlett for Willie Mullins, he liked to go forward when with Willie so could well set a strong pace.
The third race of the day comes at 12:40 and is a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over two miles and a furlong. An extremely competitive affair of which I’ve taken a chance on TEGEREK for Jonjo O’Neil at 4/1. Ridden by Jonjo O’Neil Jr this six-year-old by Mount Nelson has progressed very nicely this term, having won impressively here at the October meeting within handicap company before finishing third in the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle here last month. There’s a high chance that there is still a fair bit of progressing still to come from him and if that’s the case he could prove a big player here, as the ratings also suggest.
Up next is the 1:15 which is another fiercely competitive contest this time coming in the form of a Class 3 Mares’ Handicap Chase. Agent Valdez will be tough to beat here for Fergal O’Brien and is probably a worthy favourite, I have however tried to take her on though and done that with the Henry Daly trained BLACK TULIP at 5/1 who’s the ride of Richard Patrick. She was second in the race a couple of years ago off a four pound higher mark and arrives here off the back of a win at Uttoxeter where she made all. She’s generally a consistent sort without getting her head in front too often and I think she can give her running once again here.
It’s the rerouted Grade 2 Peterborough Chase next at 1:50. Contested over a trip of two miles and four furlongs this race follows the trend of the day of being fiercely competitive. I’m giving another chance to a personal favourite of mine here though and that’s MISTER FISHER at 5/1 for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. I think he can be forgiven for his effort here last month in the Paddy Power Gold Cup as the ground went against him and back on a sounder surface I think he can show what’s he’s all about, a classy horse with definite ability. He’ll have to be on top of his game though as he has a whole host of top rivals to deal with, most notably stablemate Top Notch as well as current race favourite Fanion D’Estruval.
The final race I’ll be looking at on Day 1 of the International Meeting is the Grade 3 Handicap Chase at 2:25 which is contested over three miles and two furlongs. I’ve sided with the Irish raider COURT MAID at 15/8 here for the team of Thomas and David Mullins. She arrives here in great form having won by 13 lengths last time at Fairyhouse and is well treated under a penalty, this looks like a stepping stone for March and I think she’ll prove a very big player. Her main danger looks to come in the form of Black Corton for Paul Nicholls, also worthy of a mention is West Approach who’s no stranger to this track.