The Cheltenham November Meeting is upon us and Matchbook’s resident Horse Racing nut Micháel Deasy has picked out eight selections to watch over the weekend.
A Hare Breath – 13:50 Friday
A Hare Breath is a horse held in the highest regard by his trainer Ben Pauling, even though he has only shown glimpses of his true ability. His record so far includes a fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle in 2016 and a staying on eighth in last years County Hurdle, although his most impressive run was at Sandown last December where he gave weight all round and was still well on top at the line ahead of Caid Du Lin.
There was a brief attempt at a chasing career in the spring of 2017 but he found it too tough at the top level and after finishing last in the Arkle won by Altior he has reverted to the smaller obstacles.
He ran off 147 in that race and arrives here off a mark of 140 and I think he could be well handicapped back over fences.
White Moon – 14:25 Friday
It’s unlikely you’ll see a more beautiful horse this weekend than the big strapping grey White Moon. He racked up two wins over hurdles early in the season last year before returning lame from a run in Sandown in what proved to be his last run of the season, but the manner in which he won his races marked him out as something special.
He travels through his races very strongly and showed a great turn of foot to take him clear from the last hurdle in both of his wins, galloping all the way to the line in the manner of a horse that loves what he does.
Bearing in mind his size and owners (the same connections as Native River), chasing was always going to be his game and he could be another very exciting chaser for the Tizzard team.
He could be sneaking in under the radar in what looks to be a top quality novice chase and I can’t wait to see where he is coming up that hill.
Perfect Candidate – 13:50 Saturday
Perfect Candidate knows Cheltenham well, having run fourteen times at the course, finishing second twice and winning three times. In fact, the biggest win of his career came in this race last year when he jumped into the lead at the third last, powered up the hill and held on very gamely to win from Vicente. And while he is 11 now and has a lot of miles on the clock he arrives here with a similar prep to last year and is now 2lb lower.
Coneygree’s presence at the top of the weights means he will run off 11st 2lb and will have one of the best jockeys in the business, Paddy Brennan, in the saddle so don’t be surprised to see another big run at a double-figure price.
Kalondra – BetVictor Gold Cup 14:25 Saturday
Kalondra won the Ryman Novices’ Chase over 2m5f at Cheltenham last December under a hands and heels ride while giving weight to Coo Star Sivola, who would go on to win the Ultima at the festival.
The ride Noel Fehily gave this horse to win was a thing of beauty and I thought the sky was the limit for him, but that was as good as it got for the season.
The ground is the key for him, and he doesn’t want it too soft. He missed the festival due to the soft ground and will be hoping the rain stays away this week. He is only rated 1lb higher than his win last December and if conditions are in his favour he should go very close.
Solo Saxophone – 13:15 Sunday
Solo Saxophone had the honour of being the first Frankel foal to pursue a National Hunt career when he joined Dan Skelton’s yard from Dermot Weld last year. He was immediately sent over hurdles and looked a bit clumsy with his jumping in his debut at Catterick when struggling in fifth at the second last.
But once he got going he began passing horses with ease and left them for dead in the final 150 yards.
He finished last season in the Fred Winter at the festival where the style of his run in this race showed his potential. He made very eye-catching progress coming down the hill from the third last before powering up the hill and ran into a very good sixth position from the last.
His jumping was a definite weakness last season but he is still only 4 and would have had a lot less schooling over hurdles that his contemporaries last season having come straight from a flat racing campaign.
He has since had wind surgery and looked like a horse badly in need of the run in his seasonal debut at Market Rasen last month. His jumping looked much slicker and horses generally improve on their second run after a wind op so expect a much better show this weekend.
Nietzsche – Greatwood Hurdle 15:00 Sunday
I am only mentioning this horse because of his price at the time of writing. Nietzsche is currently available at 51.0 for the Greatwood and this is the greatest example of value that we will find this weekend!!
Let me explain why.
Nietzsche finished 6th in this race last year at an SP of 13.0. He travelled well throughout and was in contention until they rounded the corner for home, staying on as best of the rest in sixth.
He raced four wide all the way around that day which didn’t help and was beaten fair and square by better horses.
He did manage to beat some decent horses home too, including Jenkins who won twice last season and is now rated 148, and Mohaayed who won the County Hurdle at the Festival and is now rated 146.
He had a recent run on the flat to blow off the cobwebs and should be spot on for Sunday so 51.0 is far too big a price for a horse that will be in receipt of more than a stone in weight from the top eight in the betting.
He would be a good bet to place at the very least if things go his way.
Seddon – 15:30 Sunday
Finally, we have Seddon who stamped his class on a Novices Hurdle at Stratford at the start of November and looks set for a big run in a race his trainer knows well.
He travelled very strongly on his hurdling debut and breezed into the lead before the last to win on the bridle. He was very keen during the early stages of a steadily run race but will definitely appreciate a step up in class where he can make better use of his high cruising speed.
This is a hot race but he is definitely one to keep an eye on for the future.
Earlier this week Rory Delargy and Donn McClean previewed the Cheltenham November Meeting giving their best bets for the meeting. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.