There seems a good chance that we will get some racing over the weekend after the weather having played havoc with the fixtures for a while.
The Cheltenham card kicks off with the 12.55 where Diamond Harry seeks to extend his unbeaten record. He has looked a horse with enormous potential and he should win this on the way to better things. He has looked slightly quirky at times and if for some reason he doesn’t perform then Bensalem, who is also unbeaten in 4 starts could be the one to profit.
Lucinda Russell sends Quws Law down to Cheltenham to contest the 1.30. He has done all his winning at Ayr up to now and faces quite a stiff task here. He is effective on the ground though and if he can get into a rhythm at the head of affairs he could take some pegging back. He would be my each way selection in this race.
The 2.05 is one of those races where you could make a case for most of them. Stan and Reveillez would have been my main fancies on better ground but I am not sure about them acting in testing ground. I would love to see old Mister McGoldrick win this but at 12 years of age and he is certainly no forlorn hope having posted some decent efforts this season. I am a bit stuck for a selection to be honest – perhaps Private Be who should act of the ground, has run well at Cheltenham before and is not too badly handicapped.
In the 2.35 there is no doubt that Star de Mohaison is well treated at the weights and his earlier runs this season should have put him spot on. He comes into the race with a good chance as does Tidal Bay who has never been out of the first two in his career. With both these there is a slight worry about the ground so I am going to side with Halcon Generlardais who is proven in the conditions.
The 3.45 is next up where Punchestowns puts his World Hurdle credentials on the line. He has been most impressive in his last two starts but has to give weight to some smart rivals. Pettifour has been disappointing since winning at Wetherby in November and comes from a stable struggling for form. Blazing Bailey loves Cheltenham and there is a chance that the blinkers will sharpen him up after a couple of rather below par displays. Big Bucks looks the main danger to the favourite based on his win over course and distance on New Years Day. This is a step up in class but with the weight allowance he must be a serious contender. I would still go with Punchestowns as the likely winner but I would not be keen at a very short price.
King’s Revenge, Five Dream and Matuhi all make some appeal in the 4.20 but for my selection I am going to take a chance with The Jazz Musician.He has only run twice over hurdles but looked a potentially smart performer when winning at Chepstow last March. I understood that the plan was to send The Jazz Musician over fences this season and given his absence from the track for 10 months there is the possibility that he has had some sort of a problem. If fully wound up for this he should go well.
At Doncaster Lightning Strike looks the one to beat in the 12.35. This ex German flat horse was a decent hurdler and he made a winning debut over fences at Wincanton last month. At a bigger price Auroras Encore, a recent winner at Sedgefield, could go well, although very testing ground would be a concern.
Chomba Womba will be hard to beat in the 1.05, a race she won last season, while Character Building and Halla San are my each way suggestions for the 1.40.
There are 2 runners from my list to follow in the 2.15. Nirvana Swing and Otage de Brion. Charlie Longsden’s horses are in better form at the moment and Otage de Brion could improve on recent efforts.
Big Fella Thanks was going well when unseating last time out and should be suited by conditions in the 3.25. If he puts in a clear round I can see him running well. Native Coral looks a fair outsider off a low weight. Alexanderthegreat is another for the shortlist from the in form stable of Venetia Williams.
The 2.50 is a competitive renewal and Junior and On Raglan Road clash again after finishing first and second at Sandown last time. On Raglan Road was not suited by the slowly run race on that occasion and might well get closer and the same can be said of the 5th in that race, Grizebeck with a more positive ride. Cape Tribulation won over hurdles at Uttoxeter recently and is a progressive sort having won a couple of bumpers and on the flat. He is the other one I like in this. I am going to stick with Junior though who put in a fair effort when second to Diamond Harry lat time out.
If Uttoxeter goes ahead Mewstone could be interesting in the 1.15 where he should be suited by the testing ground.
Today’s pictures are by kind permission of the artist Lisa Miller.
That is all for now.