Friday 21st October 2022
Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)
Welcome to my first jumps preview blog of the forthcoming National Hunt Season, and what better place to start it than Cheltenham itself with the Showcase Meeting that kicks off on Friday. I’ll be starting things off with the opener at Prestbury Park in the 1:35 which is a Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle that’s contested over two miles and half of a furlong. I like the chances of Calico here at 6/1 for the team of Tristan Durrell and Dan Skelton. He’s a horse that’s got some solid form over hurdles to his name, most notably when he was second within Grade 2 company in February of 2021 behind the smart Cape Gentleman. Since then, his form has been a little bit patchy within handicap company, however, he arrives here on a career low mark and has run a few solid races of much higher. If getting some luck around here he’s every chance of playing a very meaningful role in this.
The next race I’ll be taking a look at is the 2:10 which is a Novices’ Chase that’s ridden over two miles. Just like the majority of the races at Cheltenham over the next couple of the days this is really competitive, I’ve taken a chance on Jetoile though at 4/1 for Daryl Jacob and Ryan Potter. He made a very pleasing chasing debut when he was last seen at Uttoxeter, finishing three-quarters of a length second to Aucunrisque who he gets a five-pound pull in the weights off here. It’s likely that weight-swing could turn that form around, and whilst he has a bit to find on the ratings with current favourite Ash Tree Meadow, he’s not had as many opportunities as him to get to such a number. He’s still improving and has run well at Cheltenham before, I’m not sure we’ve seen the best of him just yet.
It’s the 3:20 where I’ll be sharing my opinions next, which is a Class 3 Handicap Chase over two miles and four furlongs. I’m siding with Hang In There at 4/1 here for Tom Bellamy and Emma Lavelle, who I’m surprised isn’t the current market leader. He was actually a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle winner at the track a few years ago, and has since made a very impressive transition to chasing arriving here on the back of four straight decisive victories. These victories have come in small fields over the summer and early autumn, so to take the form at face value would be a tad foolish. However, how he jumps is really impressive and if he gets in a rhythm around here he could have his rivals in trouble a fair distance from home. The yard is in solid form at the minute, and he’s by far the most solid horse in this contest.
The fourth and final race I’ll be looking at is the 3:55 which is a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle that’s set to be ridden over two miles and four furlongs. I’ve sided with Spanish Present here at 5/2 for the combination of Sean Bowen and Martin Keighley. He’s by far one of the least exposed here, arriving into the race with just a couple of races over hurdles to his name. However, he did get off the mark over obstacles on just his second attempt and in impressive style too, winning at Worcester last month by four and a half lengths. He’s got a bit to find on ratings here with many of his close market rivals, however, he gets a lot of weight off most of them and he also has some half-decent course form to his name when finishing ninth in the Champion Bumper here last term.