Good ground is predicted for Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting and this weekend’s action includes the Greatwood Hurdle, where West Yorkshire trainer Sue Smith has an unexposed hurdler who fits the bill as a potential winner.
Chasing is the ultimate game for most horses in her Bingley yard but there is unfinished business over hurdles for MIDNIGHT SHADOW, who won the Scottish Champion Hurdle as a 25/1 shot on his final start of last season and is likely to improve from his close comeback second at Wetherby last month.
This lightly raced five-year-old used to take a keen hold in his races, but he has always shown loads of ability and can be rated as a major player now that he has learned to settle. He needed the run at Wetherby and Smith’s runners often improve quite a bit for their reappearance outings.
Fresh from a winning nap last Saturday, the whizz kids at Carrigill’s are very keen on BARON ALCO who runs tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.35 in the Gold Cup Handicap Chase.
Gary Moore’s ex French-trained seven-year-old gelding has yet to finish out of the frame in seven chases.
He returned from a 577-day lay-off at Chepstow last month where he was up with the pace before going down by a head to Charbel.
He goes in any ground and is sure to strip much fitter this weekend. He has previously run well around the Cheltenham undulations which counts for plenty in this game.
His biggest threat could be Mick Channon’s MISTER WHITAKER, another progressive chaser who has progressed quickly through the ranks but is now 15lb higher than when scoring in the novice handicap at the Cheltenham Festival. But the West Isley handler can sign off with a winner in the bumper which closes the meeting on Sunday with HIGH NOTE who was an easy winner on his debut at Newton Abbott.
These three days serve up great racing and many punters will be banking on DYNAMITE DOLLARS today (Friday 2.25) to continue a good run for Paul Nicholls. On the cross-country course at 3pm all eyes will be on Grand National winner TIGER ROLL who is touted to make his seasonal debut. But this could be just a pipe opener and French raider URGENT DE GREGAINE makes more appeal on 2lb better terms.
Over on the flat, we can expect a Churchillian response from ADDEYBB in the Listed Churchill Stakes at Lingfield tomorrow (Saturday 2.45). This year’s Lincoln winner probably needed the run when pitched in against Roaring Lion at Ascot last time out.
That race will have sharpened him up and the sharp turning track will help him get home over this longer trip.
The second fast track qualifier on the card is at 3.15 where Hugo Palmer’s GIFTED MASTER is fancied to repeat last year’s victory. As his biggest successes since then have come in handicaps – most notably Goodwood’s Stewards’ Cup – he escapes a penalty here and receives weight from the likes of MUTHMIR, ABOVE THE REST and the durable KIMBERELLA.
Finally, at Wolverhampton tomorrow night (Saturday, 8.15) I will be on Jason Ward’s MEERPAT who has won over this trip of 5f and looks primed to make the frame.
CARRIGILL’S NAP (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4): BARON ALCO, Saturday, 2.35, Cheltenham.
AUGUR’S BEST BET: MEERPAT (e/w), Saturday, 8.15 pm, Wolverhampton.