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 hope you all enjoyed the Friday preview, I finally got a winner over the sticks as Top Bandit who was put up on here at 6/1 did the job in the last (I’m not counting Camprond at that price). Anyway, here are my thoughts on Saturday’s action…. enjoy!”
The first race of the day on Saturday comes at 1:45 and it’s a Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle over two miles and half of a furlong. I’ve had two darts in this affair and the first of them comes in the form of Samarrive for Paul Nicholls. He’s yet to taste defeat on a racecourse having won both of his two starts, with the latest coming on stable debut for Ditcheat at Kempton at the back end of last season where he dismantled a field by 13 lengths. There’s every chance he could prove a cut above this sort of level and he’s got one of the best conditionals on board here in Lorcan Williams. If you’re looking for one at a slightly bigger price though Nordic Combined could be the answer at around 14/1. He represents the David Pipe yard and arrives here off the back of a break after a busy spell in the Spring where he notched up some solid efforts including a second placed effort here at the April meeting as well as an 8 length victory at Hexham. He’s been competitive off the mark he’ll run off here and has solid course form to his name, so he’s certainly not without a chance.
It’s the 2:20 up next which is a Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong on the old course. I’m siding with the very likable Storm Control here for Kerry Lee and Richard Patrick who’s currently trading at around the 11/2 mark. The connections have had great success at the track before with him, and this gallant course and distance winning front-runner will likely give his all once again off a mark he’s proven he can handle in the past, if a few of these aren’t up to it they might struggle to peg him back. Last season’s Grand National winner Cloth Cap looks set to start his campaign off here and if tuned up he’s an obvious huge threat on the back of his exploits last season for Jonjo O’Neil and Tom Scudamore.
One of the most intriguing races of the day comes at 2:55 which is the Masterson Holdings Hurdle race over two miles and half of a furlong. Tritonic is the favourite here for Alan King on the back of his fine campaign last year where won the Adonis by the best part of 10 lengths, he had a couple of spins on the flat throughout the summer and will arrive here a warm order and tough to beat if near his best. I’ve taken him on though and done that with Stepney Causeway for Dan and Harry Skelton, he’s won his last four starts with many of them coming by wide margins. He got firmly put in his place by the favourite when they last met, however, he’s progressed significantly since then and has a considerable pull at the weights which could well bridge the gap enough for him to reverse the form.
Next up is the 3:30 which is a Handicap Chase over three miles which is contested on the old course. Sky Pirate will prove a warm and popular selection with punters here on the back of his Festival heroics, and he’s the one they all have to beat as he’s the best horse in the race by some way on ratings. I think he could well struggle to give all of the weight away here though, and I think Before Midnight could be the one to capitalise, so he’s my punt here. Sam Thomas’ eight-year-old is still relatively unexposed for his age and I think he’s still progressing judging on his most recent form which includes back to back victories.
Moving onto the 4:05 which is another extremely competitive Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle, this time over three miles. I’m keeping this one simple by siding with the Gordon Elliott trained Tullybeg who’s the mount of Jordan Gainford, who takes off three pounds. He arrives here in great form having won his last two starts and is likely to still have more progression in him, which the same can’t be said for a considerable amount of this line-up. Gordon Elliott was amongst the winners here on Friday and this is another horse I think he can go very close with. If you want one at more each-way orientated price I think Panic Attack has every chance of going well here for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore, he’s another that I think there’s more progression to come from and he’s unexposed over this distance.
The penultimate race of the meeting comes at 4:40 in the form of a Novices’ Chase over three miles and half of a furlong. I think this is all about the Kim Bailey trained Does He Know who’s the mount of David Bass. He was a graded winner over hurdles here last season and made the perfect start to life over fences when taking a hot novice chase at Chepstow last time out in very impressive style. It’s extremely likely he’ll progress from that effort here further which makes him a very dangerous proposition, over a course and distance he seems to do very well at. His main danger looks to be Oscar Elite for Colin Tizzard, he ran mighty races at both Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in the Spring and could prove a very smart performer over the larger obstacles.
Concluding the day is a National Hunt Flat Race at 5:15 which is contested over two miles and half of a furlong. Another extremely competitive affair of which I’ve taken a chance on Top Dog at 6/1 for Emma Lavelle and Tom Bellamy. He’s already had one start where he was narrowly denied in a sixteen runner bumper over in Ireland at Fairyhouse at the back end of last season in April, he’s since moved to the Lavelle outfit and could well prove a decent recruit, as that was a very solid effort in what was a hot contest on debut. If progressing from that here and putting his experience to use he’s got every chance of playing a part at the business end of things.