There is plenty to get your teeth into this weekend should you choose to and ITV Racing will be at Cheltenham on Saturday and Sunday as a little added bonus. I am being a little selective and limiting my involvement as I see a few of the races over the coming forty-eighty hours as tricky, but the bets I am having I fancy pretty strongly. My three for Saturday, best odds guaranteed this morning, follow.
Best bet for the horseracing at Cheltenham
The 2m4f Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 2.20 is the race of the day and should be a proper race as well with a very good looking field assembled. The Real Whacker is three from three over fences at Prestbury Park, Including of course the 3m G.1 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, so has to be shortlisted but he has a huge weight to defy on his return and it looks a big ask to me to give this field that much weight. I think he is better over the longer trip as well. Unexpected Party returned to action last month beating Knappers Hill in a Listed Chepstow Novice Chase so has the fitness advantage on a few of these but he couldn’t live with the best Novice Chasers last year, behind Stage Star twice for example. His trainer likes him but I am yet to be convinced he is out of the very top-drawer. Notlongtillmay blew the cobwebs away over two-miles here last month and will surely appreciate the step-back up in trip this afternoon. Second in the G.1 Turners Novices' Chase at the Festival he gets 3lb from Stage Star here but I can’t see him reversing the Festival form. I am all about Stage Star for this. The Paul Nicholls trained seven-year-old may have blotted his copybook at Aintree when last seen in April but the G.1 Turners Novices' Chase winner was clearly one of the best around last year. He is three from three on seasonal debut so the lack of a recent run, though a statistical issue as eight of the last ten winners had a recent run under their belt, with this horse it doesn’t concern me at all. I noted Paul Nicholls say in a season preview interview “I hope he proves good enough to earn a shot at the Ryanair in the spring. He loves Cheltenham, loves going left-handed, and we will enter him in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.” Well the road to the Ryanair begins here. I have a bit of the 11-2.
Best bets for the horseracing at Lingfield Park
I fancy a couple over at Lingfield on the Polytrack, one in each of their Listed races. A few quid will no doubt be placed on Lanfranco making his debut in the 12.51 named as he is after Frankie Dettori. The Frankel colt is the first offspring of the G.1 winning mare Coronet and owned by friend of Dettori Prince Faisal Salman and his Denford Stud. Apparently they had the name reserved and on a visit to the stud early this season Frankie chose the colt to be his namesake.
The 2.36 1m2f Listed BetUK Churchill Stakes has been won by some decent types down the years and a number of the larger yards are often represented. It is no surprise to see Forest Of Dean and Tyrrhenian Sea lining-up here but they both look to be running for place-money at best; it is a seventh course and distance appearance for Forest Of Dean. Blue Trail is not the most reliable type but has All-Weather winning from back in his three-year-old days and is interesting here getting the weight from his main rivals. A Group performer when in the mood the four-year-old can hopefully take full advantage of the weight he receives from Regal Reality and Foxes Tail. Charlie Appleby said “Blue Trail was an emphatic winner out in Dubai earlier in the year, which forced our hand into Pattern company. This is a slight fact-finding mission as to whether he can be competitive in Group races at Meydan over the winter and he has gone well on the all-weather in the past.” 9-2 is around and I have that.
At 3.11 we have the Listed 6f BetUK Golden Rose Stakes and this is another race that has a fair rollcall of past winners, not least Summerghand last season. Mischief Magic is, on paper, the best horse in the field and won a 6f Conditions Stakes at Kempton last month with a bit up his sleeve, I would suggest, and confirming he goes on the Polytrack. A member of the Dirty Dozen for me this season following his victory in the G.1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (tipped on here) last back end a Listed race at Lingfield on a chilly November afternoon isn’t where I expected to see him running this season but here we are. He clearly has had problems this year, nowhere near some of his two-year-old form, and it is not surprising he was gelded after a disappointing effort in the G.1 Commonwealth Cup. His trainer Charlie Appleby said this week “We were delighted to get Mischief Magic back on track last time and I think Lingfield will suit him as turning tracks seem to be his thing. He goes into this in good order and hopefully has his confidence back up again after getting his head in front. He should be a big player.” I'm on at 2-1 and that could look big if he finds his old form
Fingers crossed for a quick James Doyle and Charlie Appleby double on the afternoon.Be lucky