It’s always a good weekend when Prestbury Park is alive with action, especially when the headline event is the Cheltenham November Meeting.
With the Paddy Power Gold Cup as the star act on Saturday, Friday is a nice introduction for a good weekend and I have three fancies for the action on ITV and Racing TV.
1:45 Cheltenham – Ballybreeze @ 5/1 General – 2pt EW
The Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase (great name) looks like a fascinating race over two miles with Calico, the 4/1 favourite, bringing form with Jonbon to the table while Triple Trade is progressing at a good rate of knots for Joe Tizzard.
Away from these two, Ballybreeze is a horse I’ve wanted to see for a while and he finally gets his opportunity in the shadows of Cleeve Hill.
The seven-year-old by Schiaparelli raced just three times last season and kicked off his campaign with a facile success at Chepstow after a 218-day break.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 26, 2022
Following a 139-day break, connections sent Ballybreeze to the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival at 150/1.
Although he was last home, Samual Drinkwater’s £8,000 purchase travelled at Grade 1 pace for a while – unlike Hollow Games – before fading.
Following his Grade 1 test, Ballybreeze went to Market Rasen and looked like the winner before over-jumping the third last and falling.
With a good summer on his back, he looks very well-handicapped off 120 and with his ability to perform well fresh, he looks like a standout bet at 11/2.
3:30 Cheltenham – Captain Teague @ 4/6 General – 4pt Win
This isn’t a revolutionary or unique pick, but due to the lack of betting angles in the other races, Captain Teague makes the list as a good bet on Friday.
The five-year-old by Doyen has a lot to like coming into the Grade 2 Trustatrader Novices’ Hurdle, notably the fact he won the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle on his debut over obstacles.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 13, 2023
Although he looked to guess at a few hurdles, his jumping improved throughout the contest and that run was his first piece of schooling on grass due to the quick ground back in Ditcheat.
Therefore, he will hopefully show a better level of consistency at Cheltenham and, in turn, an even higher standard of performance.
🗣️ Paul Nicholls on comparing Captain Teague to Bravemansgame & Stage Star:
“He’s up there with them all to win a race like that first time out – all of those horses today had experience, he didn’t.
“He’s been bought to be a nice chaser one day. He can only improve massively." pic.twitter.com/qijtq0zbxB
— Ash Symonds Journalism (@ASymondsJourno) October 13, 2023
Furthermore, the form of his third in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper continues to get better as the fourth, fifth, ninth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth have all won impressively since.
If you are looking to take a risk for some potential value, I think Kinbara is a nice horse for John McConnell and the 4/1 straight forecast could be an interesting play, but as for the sole selection, hopefully Captain Teague can show his class.
4:05 Cheltenham – Impose Toi @ 3/1 @ William Hill – 1pt Win
Nicky Henderson could be on for a good weekend with his JP McManus-owned horses if both Jonbon in the Shloer Chase and Iberico Lord in the Greatwood Hurdle oblige willingly.
However, looking at the more immediate future, the trainer-owner partnership has a good chance to kick the weekend off well with Impose Toi in the finale on Friday.
The five-year-old gelding is making his handicap debut having bolted up in a novice hurdle over 2m5f at Ludlow in May while carrying a penalty.
🐎 Market leaders Egbert (6/4 fav) and Impose Toi (13/8) have the finish to themselves in the 2m5f maiden hurdle at @LudlowRaceClub. The latter tanked through the race on his debut for Nicky Henderson and should soon be winning. @tomcannon2 pic.twitter.com/7hFr1bukUD
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 6, 2023
That win came after an average run at Huntingdon behind Brentford Hope, though the form has worked out as Brentford Hope skated in at Newbury by 15 lengths on his seasonal reappearance last week.
Although Impose Toi has 11-12 to carry around Prestbury Park, he is unexposed and has good form on soft ground due to his two victories in France for Daniela Mele.
This could be a tough task on his handicap debut, but I think he could be too classy and I’m willing to take that chance at 3/1.