Saturday 12th December 2020
Welcome to my preview for the second day of the International Meeting at Cheltenham. It was good to finally have a really good day at Cheltenham this season yesterday on the page, with Mister Fisher winning when put up at 5/1 as well as Happygolucky at 2/1. Black Tulip also came second at 8/1.
For Saturday I’ll be sharing my views on six of the seven races which include the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup as well as the International Hurdle.
The first race of the day comes up at 12:05 and is a Class 2 Juvenile Hurdle over two miles, otherwise known as the Triumph Trial. I think this race is all about the David Pipe trained ADAGIO at 11/10 for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore. He’s a heavy ground winner on the flat and opened his account over obstacles with a win at Warwick before following up with a fine second here in a Grade 2 last month behind Duffle Coat. If naturally progressing from that effort here he could well prove tough to beat for connections who took the opening race on Friday.
Up next is the 12:40 which is a Class 2 Novices’ Chase which is a contested over two miles and four and a half furlongs. Similar to the first race there’s another warm order here who I think will be very tough to beat and that’s the Nicky Henderson trained CHANTRY HOUSE at 8/13, who’s the mount of Nico de Boinville. He won at this meeting last year before finishing third behind stablemate Shishkin in the Supreme at The Festival in March. He opened his account over fences with a 26 length success at Ascot and it’s likely there’s a lot more to come from this exciting prospect. His main rival looks to come in the form of stablemate Fusil Raffles.
Moving onto the 1:15 we have a Handicap Chase that’s ridden over a distance of two miles and half of a furlong. An extremely competitive affair of which I’m taking a chance on ZANZA at 5/1 for Richard Johnson and Phillip Hobbs. He showed a nice turn of foot to win impressively at Newbury last time out a couple of weeks ago, there are some question marks surrounding the ground but he did win on soft over hurdles a couple of years ago. If showing more progression here he’s got to be considered as a big player. Ibleo looks a big threat and a solid favourite for Venetia Williams.
The 1:50 is up next which is the Grade 3 Handicap Chase that is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup over two miles and four and a half furlongs. This race is always immensely competitive with this year being no different with horses at the top of the betting such as Cepage and Al Dancer setting a solid standard. I’m taking a chance on one being potentially better than this grade though and that’s the Paul Nicholls trained MASTER TOMMYTUCKER at 7/1 who’s to be ridden by Harry Cobden. This horse is far from the most straight forward and has proven to be very error prone in the past, that could well get him found out around here but I just think he might have a bit of star quality about him. He’s won both of his starts so far the season and most recently dismantled a decent field at Haydock, getting the better of the smart Good Boy Bobby by the best part of 15 lengths. If getting a clear round I think he could have a big say here.
It’s more Graded action next at 2:25 as we have the a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle over three miles. Another competitive field of which I’ve sided with another Paul Nicholls charge this time coming in the form of DANNY KIRWAN at 7/2, who’ll be once again ridden by Harry Cobden. He was a smart bumper horse but became frustrating to follow in recent years, however, on his most recent appearance at Ascot he finally showcased the talent he clearly has when getting the better of a well fancied rival of Nicky Henderson’s by over three lengths. This requires another step up in ability but I don’t think we’ve quite gotten to the bottom of him yet as I think there could be a considerable amount yet to come from him.
I’m concluding my preview with the 3:00 which is the Grade 2 International Hurdle itself, a race that’s ridden over two miles and a furlong. This is one of the most intriguing races of the National Hunt season so far, and therefore I’ve actually sided with two in it. The first of which is GOSHEN at 2/1 for the Moore team of Jamie and Gary. I’m probably going more heart than head here but I really want him to bounce back for connections, especially Jamie and prove himself to be a top-class hurdler after that infamous last flight spill when miles clear in the Triumph here in March. He’s got a couple of below par efforts on the flat in the summer to put behind him but he still holds considerable potential within this division. My more, let’s say, ‘head’ based selection comes in the form of SILVER STREAK at 7/1 for Adam Wedge and Evan Williams. He was mightily impressive on his seasonal reappearance in a Listed contest at Kempton when getting the better of Verdana Blue by over six lengths. He was very unfortunate last time when carried out in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and he’s every chance of getting redemption for that here at a course where has solid form over hurdles having placed in a Champion Hurdle. Solid player if you don’t fancy chancing the jolly.