Cheltenham was given a good soaking on Wednesday ahead of their two-day Showcase meeting which starts tomorrow and the racecourse executive will have been delighted to see the rain. Earlier in the week owner Rich Ricci confirmed JLT Novices’ winner Vautour (5/1 joint favourite at BetVictor) would be aimed at the Gold Cup rather than the Ryanair Chase at the Festival but whilst he has the brilliance and exuberance does he have the stamina for the big one? I’m not convinced.
A good jumps card from Carlisle this afternoon and Charlie Longsdon travels north with Western Miller (2.20) who is taken to make a winning debut over timber. The selection finished runner up in both starts in bumpers and looks to have the scope to make his mark over timber.
The Grey Taylor (2.50) makes a quick reappearance having looked a non-stayer over 2m 4f at Wetherby last week. The Brian Ellison jumpers have looked to just need their reappearance but the selection jumped very well in the lead at the Yorkshire track and will be hard to beat with that experience and run under his belt.
Orange Nassau (3.55) finished runner up over today’s C&D on his reappearance last October from a 3lbs higher mark and he can go one better despite top-weight in the stayers’ chase again for Longsdon. Aidan Coleman has been in the saddle for two of his three career wins in Britain and is back in the plate this afternoon.
Bennys Well would have appreciated more of the rain that the south of England got yesterday but the selection is a dual C&D winner and a market move would be worth noting although his record fresh is moderate. Dystonia’s Revenge bumped into one at Hexham last time but his record going right-handed is poor and Solway Legend (4.55) looked an unlucky loser when coming down at the last at Hexham and is taken to make amends.
Arzal (3.10) finished placed twice over fences in his native France and makes his British debut over the larger obstacles at Ludlow; he can be keen enough in his races and David Bass will be in for an exciting ride but first time out might be the time to catch him. Murrayana goes well for his amateur jockey and looks the danger in a fascinating novices handicap chase.
In the amateur jockey’s contest Gowanauthat (4.45) made a pleasing chase debut when runner up at Worcester giving every impression that a switch to a right-handed track would see him in an even better light. This winning point-to-pointer has been raised a couple of pounds for that effort and his pilot, who rode a winner at Punchestown last week, is well worth his 7lbs claim.
Makethedifference (5.15) and Breaking Bits are due to be raised 6lbs and 5lbs respectively by the handicapper from the weekend and preference is for the former who finished runner up to a decent yardstick from the John Ferguson yard at Chepstow eleven days ago. The selection had won his two starts before that and is going to find life much tougher after today.
At Thurles I expect to see Georges Conn (2.45) go one better than when second to Waaheb at Tipperary earlier in the month. The selection has now finished second in three of his last four starts over fences but he will never have a better opportunity.
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