Good Morning racing fans I trust you enjoyed yesterday’s action at Cheltenham and your National Hunt buzz is in full flow, if its not already it will be after today. Many regard today’s action as one of the top days racing in the season behind the Festival in March and Hennessy day at Newbury. It is the Open Meeting at Prestbury Park and the main day of course features the Paddypower Gold Cup won last year by the exciting Al Ferof. The race has a long list of top class winners including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander, Exotic Dancer and Our Vic.
We are spoiled for choice once again today for racing, as previously mentioned Cheltenham have the big meeting of the day but Uttoxeter and Wetherby also hold National Hunt cards. Supporting them on the polytrack is Lingfield who hold the Listed Churchill Stakes whereas Wolverhampton race under the floodlights this evening. The exciting recruit to chasing and last years Supreme Novices winner, Champagne Fever, makes his debut today at Punchestown who host an 8 race card.
As always we have prepared a video for you all, this week previewing the Cheltenham card for today and once again joined by George Gorman who gave us the inside scoop on Gary Moore’s weekend runners. As usual I was joined by the regular panel of Adam Webb (@Adamwebb121), Michael Andrews (@Mytentoryours) and Calum Madell (@Calummadell). You can also find George on twitter by searching for @GeorgeFGorman. Watch the video in the link below!
Now onto today’s selections after landing a 50/1 winner last week with Miss Cap Estel!!
1:15 Cheltenham – Le Bec
This race is intriguing as so many festival ‘bubbles’ could be burst in this event alone. A fitting place to start would be the favourite and a horse that has been called a Gold Cup horse by connections, of course I am talking about AFRICAN GOLD. Last season he was a leading contender for the Albert Bartlett before finding only At Fishers Cross too good and had LE BEC behind him that day. Unlike Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge, LE BEC has had a run over the larger obstacles in which he won cosily and was always in control down the home straight. He would have learned a lot from that day and is expected to come on a lot for the run, despite having to give AFRICAN GOLD 5 pounds today. He is one that has always looked a chaser and looks to remain unbeaten like the Jonjo O’Neill trainedSHUTTHEFRONTDOOR. His only outing over fences was at Aintree 21 days ago when he edged out the promising Beeves late on although he had something left up his sleeve. He has also tasted the Festival experience when running a good fourth behind Holywell in last years Pertemps Final. Dessie Hughes has two representatives at Cheltenham today and his second runner is WHITE STAR LINE who is already a National winner. By that I mean he won the Kerry National at Listowel back in September but won again at Clonmel last time albeit maybe a tad fortuitous. He has the most chasing experience in the field and has to give weight all round including the interesting SAM WINNER who has already had two attempts at the Chasing game. Unfortunately both of them ended in him falling and one of them he sustained a serious injury but on the whole his jumping was good. If them two experiences haven’t scarred him mentally then he could be a real player today for the Paul Nicholls yard. The other contender today is BOB FORD who put it up to Taquin Du Seuil on chasing debut but looks up against it today. Preference is for LE BEC who hails from the bang in form yard of Emma Lavelle and Noel Fehily who cant do much wrong at present. (4/1)
1:50 Cheltenham – Tour Des Champs
Tour Des Champs gets in here off a very low weight of 10-1 and is one of the last ones within the handicap after his mark remains unchanged from last time. He ended last season with a good fourth in the Scottish National behind Godsmejudge who reopposes today on worse terms. First time out this season however he was a good 2nd behind Balthazar King who of course won yesterday’s Cross Country race. The step up in trip for Tour Des Champs however is a positive and he seldom runs a bad race but has been slipping down the handicap in the process. Team Twiston-Davies haven’t quite been in the form we are accustomed to at this time of year but they dont send horses to Cheltenham without a chance. Tour Des Champs to go one better than last time. (8/1)
2:30 Cheltenham – Woolcombe Folly
Paul Nicholls took this last year with Al Ferof and this year is represented by only Woolcombe Folly who has been dropped two pounds for his last effort. Today is an extra 110 yards but that wouldnt have stopped him getting 2nd behind Johns Spirit had he jumped the last well. Alas he made a mistake that cost him big time and he finished only sixth but on the plus side he is dropped a further two pounds. This is an odd race in the sense that you cant find anything that is really well handicapped, instead everything looks on an honest mark. Woolcombe Folly was once fancied for a Champion Chase and always performs well in these kind of events so is taken to land todays prize at a good price.(33/1)
3:35 Cheltenham – Toubeera
Today’s NAP comes in the form of Toubeera for Venetia Williams who was impressive on her last two starts last season at Huntingdon and Uttoxeter. This is obviously a much bigger ask but we haven’t even scraped the bottom of the barrel regarding her ability and this is well within her. She is a big horse and as a result has taken a bit of time to grow into herself but looks to have the world at her feet this season and is a horse going places for sure. Usually Venetia Williams doesn’t have her string in dazzling form but this year she has been having winners left, right and centre. Toubeera to land today’s race and use this as a stepping stone towards bigger and better things. (15/2)
4:05 Cheltenham – Flementime
Flementime looked a very promising horse in early 2012 but after a good sixth at Aintree in their big Mares bumper she injured her leg and has been given time off since. It is odd for anyone to be tipping a horse who hasn’t seen the track for 582 days but connections are excited about this one and at home he works with Champion Court. Obviously he is one of Martin Keighley’s best horses if not his best horse so for a bumper horse to already be considered that good is rare and must be noted. Flementime to go well in the bumper.(16/1)
NAP – Toubeera
Nb – Flementime