The Cheltenham October Meeting signifies that the jumps are well and truly back in town.
— Ash Symonds Journalism (@ASymondsJourno) October 27, 2023
Whether you love seeing two-mile hurdlers rattle around the banked course of Prestbury Park, or you prefer watching a three-mile chasing slug it out from the front, the home of jump racing has a bit of everything today.
As is the case every week, the three horses below are my strongest fancies on what is a tricky day at HQ.
1:15 Cheltenham – Haddex Des Obeaux @ 5/2 – 1pt Win
The opening contest at Cheltenham is a great two-mile handicap chase with horses like Before Midnight, Red Rookie, and Notlongtillmay providing good depth.
That being said, I’m with the favourite to kick off the day as Haddex Des Obeaux is a horse I have lots of time for.
The French-bred six-year-old had a turbulent season for Gary Moore last season thanks to two victories, one unlucky second, and an unseating on seasonal debut.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 29, 2022
However, the class he showed on his last two starts of the season proved to many why he could be a Graded horse in time.
The first of which occurred at Doncaster where he made all to beat Coastguard Staton, Nero Rock and Datsalrightgino, the latter being a horse who is rated 11 pounds higher and is a Grade 2-winning novice chaser.
Less than three weeks later, he jumped brilliantly on heavy ground to bolt up by 19 lengths before he suffered a setback and Moore called time on his season.
Cracking performance 🏇
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 14, 2023
Off an official rating of 146 today, it looks as if connections have a horse for Graded races further down the line so making use of his lenient handicap mark is a good way to kick off the season.
Although In Excelsis Deo looks like an interesting proposition on just his fifth start over fences for Harry Fry and is probably the each-way angle into a race like this, Haddex Des Obeaux is a horse I like and hopefully, he can reward my love for him in the opener.
3:00 Cheltenham – Gortmillish @ 12/1 – 1pt EW
As is the case with many Pertemps Qualifiers, they are tough races to find a strong bet in, though the 12/1 price of Gortmillish has caught my attention.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, someone who is partial to a Cheltenham winner at The Showcase, the seven-year-old comes to Prestbury Park with the standard Irish tax applied to his handicap mark, though the five-pound claim of Danny Gilligan (on his only ride at Cheltenham today) should help diminish that.
The three-mile point-to-point winner scored twice for Cullentra House Stables over hurdles in the summer; once over two miles when well-fancied at Perth and once over 2m6f at Downpatrick three weeks later.
📸 Healy Racing. pic.twitter.com/HJrqH3v7Bq
— Gordon Elliott (@gelliott_racing) July 13, 2023
The form of his success two starts ago has worked out well since as the second, Charlie Luciano, beat Elliott’s Calico on his next start and the third, Lisnamult Lad, now has an official rating of 131 having bolted up by a combined 44.5 lengths on his next two starts for John McConnell.
For a horse rated 123 over in the UK, that in isolation makes him look like a well-handicapped horse, and the fact he finished a staying-on second to My Mate Mozzie in at Punchestown bumper in April 2021 further adds to that idea.
Gordon Elliott doubled up @DownpatrickRace with Gortmillish & said:"He gallops & is really honest. The track was a bit tight for him but he won well. I'm delighted with him, he's grand horse. No, he won't go to Perth (over an extended 2m in three days time), he probably wants 3m"
— Irishracing.com Live (@IrishRacing365) July 13, 2023
If Elliott thinks Gortmillish could be a potential for the Pertemps Final in March, winning today would help improve his handicap mark to make sure he gets into the race, so today could be the day to catch him.
3:35 Cheltenham – Reverend Hubert @ 4/1 – 2pt Win
The Irish have a strong hand in the three-mile novice hurdle later today, though I’m steering away from the head of the market and putting my trust in Reverend Hubert for Charles and Philip Byrnes.
Firstly, I think that Willie Mullins’ High Class Hero is quite a smart novice hurdler, so it comes with the territory that if a horse can get to within six lengths of him, they might be above average.
👀 Nice debut
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) June 5, 2023
That’s what Reverend Hubert did on his last start 35 days ago on the softer-than-ideal ground at Listowel having travelled well into the race around the outside of the field.
High Class Hero bolted up by seven lengths on his next start, franking the form for Charles Byrnes’ five-year-old.
The former Richard Hannon-trained gelding, who achieved a career-high mark of 86 on the Flat in 2022, broke his maiden tag over hurdles when a facile eight-length winner at Downpatrick on good ground in August; the second, Ringdufferin, won two-on-the-bounce after that and actually runs in the Pertemps Qualifier in the race before.
— Irishracing.com Live (@IrishRacing365) August 28, 2023
With form over two miles on the Flat, I see no reason why Reverend Hubert won’t stay three miles and his experience could see him get the better of Antrim Coast, Gavin Cromwell’s thrice-raced five-year-old who heads the market.