After picking out a 51.0 winner in his first column, Matchbook’s resident Horse Racing nut Micheál Deasy is back for the Cheltenham International Meeting with 6 cracking selections
Lil Rockerfeller – 12:45 Friday
Lil Rockerfeller has the distinction of winning two races sponsored by Matchbook this season, firstly on the flat at Goodwood in August and then over the jumps at Cheltenham in October.
He’s looked like a chaser ever since his debut at Uttoxeter when he beat Wenyerreadyfreddie, who has won twice since, in a brilliant race. He followed that up with an easy win over 3m at Cheltenham and while this is a step up in class he has been brought along gently by his trainer and now has good experience over the bigger obstacles.
Lil Rockerfeller is an incredibly honest horse who jumps and stays all day and will definitely be in the mix coming up the hill. If you don’t fancy taking short prices in a four runner contest, back him for the RSA Chase at 25.0 before he runs on Friday.
Great Trango – 15:40 Friday
Great Trango is a relatively unexposed Irish horse in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, which always sets the alarm bells ringing for bookmakers and they have reacted accordingly. He is already near the top of the market, but there is every chance he is ahead of his British handicap rating. He began his career at Ballydoyle and ran once for Aidan O’Brien before being gelded and sold on and has since developed into an incredibly consistent dual purpose horse.
He was placed in the top 3 in 14 of his 18 races and landed a touch for connections on the flat at the Galway Races this summer in heavy conditions before following that up with a good second in his first attempt at 3 miles over hurdles at Listowel in September.
He arrives here off the back of a nice break and is definitely one to watch both at this meeting and for the future.
Ok Corral – 12:45 Saturday
Vinndication is a worthy favourite for this race after his impressive win at Carlisle, but I’m more than happy to oppose him with a horse that caught my eye every time he ran last year. Nicky Henderson said anything Santini did over hurdles last year was a bonus because his career would really begin when he went over fences and I would say the same logic would have to be applied to Ok Corral.
He is a big strapping horse who seemed to step over his hurdles at times last year and he was good enough to finish ahead of Santini in the Albert Bartlett last year at the festival. In fact, he could easily have won the race but for a poor jump at the last where he lost a lot of momentum.
This Saturday he will be in receipt of 5lb from Vinndication and I can see him putting that to full use and outstaying everyone up the hill.
Catamaran Du Seuil – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup – 13:55 Saturday
Catamaran Du Seuil broke my heart last weekend with his fall in the Grand Sefton at Aintree, where I fully expected him to bolt up. Something was amiss from the start and he had to be whipped after the first fence to wake him up before putting in a few shaky jumps and crashing out at the sixth.
He was rock solid in Class 3 chases last term and showed more progression when winning by 8L on his seasonal debut at Wetherby, and I think he is a fine example of the kind of improving horse his excellent trainer does so well with.
He has finished in the first two in seven of his twelve races and while I thought he was quite well handicapped that day carrying 11st 7lbs, he gets in here off 10st 4lb with a 5lb claimer on his back. The fences are smaller at Cheltenham and if last weekend didn’t leave a mark on him he has the potential to run a big race on Saturday.
Cepage – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup – 13:55 Saturday
Venetia Williams sent out Aso to absolutely bolt up at Newbury two weeks ago for the same connections and I can see her doing the same with Cepage.
He was campaigned mainly over 2m until the end of last season, but the step up to 2m4f paid dividends instantly when he took the Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase at Kempton in March beating Bun Doran (now rated 148), Kilcrea Vale (now rated 135) and Favorito Bucks (now rated 135) amongst others.
He followed this up with a fourth over C&D at Cheltenham when given little chance by the ride he received where he raced four-wide all the way around and was outpaced when coming up the hill. Once he hit the flat he stayed on well to take fourth near the line but had no chance with the front three.
He has run well on his seasonal debut twice, winning his UK debut by 18l in December 2016 and finishing second last December.
He is currently 13.0 for the win and has an excellent chance of hitting the frame at the very least.
Ratoute Yutty – 15:40 Saturday
Ratoutte Yutty was available at a double-figure price earlier in the week but is now second favourite after sustained support in the last few days.
She has been on my radar since easily winning a Mares Maiden Hurdle by 13L on Troytown Day at Navan last November.
She put up a time that was only two seconds slower than the time posted in a 0-120 handicap hurdle later on the card, but she was eased on the run in and could easily have bettered it.
She is now in the care of Dan Skelton and made her British debut against Thomas Darby and Didtheyleaveuoutto at Ascot in November where she gave up at least 15 lengths at the start and slowly worked her way into the race. She was let go after the last and finished well to take fourth on the run in, which was a promising run against some top class novices.
This looks an easier race for her, she is in receipt of weight from most of the runners and has a great chance if she starts better.
On this week’s Horse Racing Podcast Your host Tom Stanley is joined by Brendan Powell and Rory Delargy to preview the best of the action of what promises to be a thrilling two days from the Cotswolds.