Cheltenham Showcase Meeting 2021
Author: Jordan Yates
“A massive welcome to what is the first edition of my Path To Cheltenham Previews as we kick things off at Prestbury Park with the Showcase Meeting. I’ll be continuing this throughout all the winter meetings at Cheltenham including the International, November Meeting, New Years Day and Trials Day which will then lead us to The Festival itself.
I’ve found winners hard to come by over the jumps so far, well, that’s putting it lightly as my punts have been pretty dreadful within the National Hunt sphere over the last week, so err on the side of caution if you do follow me in on a few of those. I will also have another written preview up for Saturday’s action at Cheltenham, but for now, I hope you enjoy Friday’s.”
The opener takes place at 1:55 and it’s the Ballymore Novice’s Hurdle, a Class 2 event over two miles and four furlongs. This is all about the Persian War winner Camprond who will be a very short price. He took the Grade 2 feature at Chepstow in very impressive style on his most recent outing and as a result is clear here on the ratings, if anywhere near that level again he’ll prove very tough to beat. The main danger looks to be Mars Harper who’s represents Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, he’s ultra consistent over hurdles and can give the favourite the most to think about.
Next up is the 2:30 which is a Novice Chase over two miles. I like the chances of Any News here for the team of Neil Mulholland and Sean Bowen, he arrives here on the back of a solid effort at Warwick where he finished a neck second on his chasing debut behind Beyond The Clouds. Having finished second here last year the track won’t be completely alien to him and if building on that Warwick effort he’s got every chance of running well. Both Third Time Lucki and Fidelio Vallis pose major threats as both have solid form within Graded company over hurdles here and could prove very smart assetts within this sphere.
Sticking within the theme of novice races next up is the 3:05 and is a Noices’ Hurdle over three miles. In this particular affair I’ve sided with the Paul Nicholls trained Grace A Vous Enki who’s the mount of stable jockey Harry Cobden. This French recruit was well fancied on het British debut for Ditcheat and was sent off the 8/11 favourite when just getting touched off into second at Warwick. If building on that outing she should put on a bold showing here in what is a very competitive affair. Bardenstown Lad is no stranger to the winners enclosure, this Irish raider has been a wide margin winner on nummerous occasions throughout the summer and warrants a huge amount of respect.
The 3.40 follows which is another novice event this time in the form of a Novice Chase over two miles and four furlongs. It’s another competitive affair which this time has a small field, of which I like the chances of Faivoir for Dan and Harry Skelton. He’s already a course and distance winner having won a novice hurdle here at the April meeting at the back end of last season, he had a break after that success and returned with a fine win at Uttoxeter on chasing debut. Last season he also claimed Grade 2 honours when taking the Supreme Trial and Haydock and I think there could well be a lot more to come from him over the bigger obstacles. Chris Gordon’s Annual Invictus will be looking to reverse the Uttoxeter form with the Skelton charge and is dangerous with an eight pound pull, Danny Kirwan is also greatly respected despite being a tad frustrating to follow.
We move into handicap company at 4:15 in the form of a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs. As to be expected, an extremely competitive contest of which I’m taking a rather tentative alliance with two picks, the first is Found On for Martin Keighley and Sean Bowen. A six-year-old mare who’s currently trading at a best price of 7/1, she was last seen winning by just shy of five lengths at Warwick last month against her own sex and whilst this requires considerably more I think she could well have to more to offer as she’s still relatively unexposed. I’ve also had a play on Captain Morgs here for Nicky Henderson, he’s very much still unexposed and arrives here off the back of a break since April when he was last seen falling at Kempton. I think this five-year-old by Milan could well prove a smart proposition for his top connections which he could well showcase, at the showcase.
The penultimate race on Day One of the Showcase Meeting comes at 4:50 and is a Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong. This is another tentative alliance for me in a race of which a case could made for the entire field, however, I’ve taken a chance on Redford Road here for Nigel Twiston-Davies who’s currently an 8/1 shot. I was actually at Cheltenham back in 2019 when he won a Grade 2 here at the International Meeting when he got the better of Champagne Well, following that success things didn’t quite go to plan at the top level and he’s been winless since. He’ll contest the affair though off what looks to be a very workable mark and he’s certainly got the ability to exploit it if he’s on a going day.
Concluding the afternoon’s action is the 5:25 which is a Maiden Hurdle over two miles and half of a furlong. The hot favourite here and potentially exciting horse in the line-up is Go Dante for Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman, he was mightily impressive when dismantling a bumper at Wincanton in March and could prove tough to beat. I’ve tried to take him on though with one at a bigger price and I’ve done that with Top Bandit for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell who’s around a 6/1 chance. He showed some decent form in bumpers and posted a solid effort on his hurdling debut when finishing third of sixteen at Limerick. He should progress from that effort and it’s unlikely he’ll be here to just make up the numbers for his trainer who has farmed the place for winners over the years.