Cheltenham. Is. Back. And it looms a cracker of a card, and it’s only the first meeting of the season. Plenty of clues with the novice divisions already taking shape, and some handicaps to savour too. Plus we, might, have the final Group One on the flat at Doncaster that may see an upset on the boggy ground. It’s Saturday, it’s Four to Follow.
2:25 – William Hill Handicap Chase – Lord Accord @ 4/1 (William Hill)
Neil Mulholland’s star won this race last year, and is back to do it all again on the Old Course. The big statistic that has made him been backed in, is he is only one pound higher than last year’s mark. The ground will not be a bother, and his running style suits the trip and course to a T. I just can’t look past him, even if he might be too short for a handicap.
Twig is another to consider for the Ben Pauling team, who had an emotional winner with Mole Court yesterday. Twig has won his last tow starts, over both hurdle and chase classes, at this level. The handicap has given him a five pound rise, which Beau Morgan immediately takes off with the claim. The ground is good, whilst a little rain softened, which is perfect for a nice swing at 9/1 (William Hill).
And with extra places on offer with bookmakers, the third pick is an Irish raider. Henry de Bromhead and Gordon Elliott always bring a string over to every Cheltenham meeting, and they’re not just there for peanuts. De Bromhead saddles Whacker Clan who won’t mind the good-ish ground, despite a win on soft ground last time out. Down in the handicap and a big price at 16/1 (William Hill).
A New Pick
3:00 – Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle – Hugos New Horse @ 15/2 (Unibet)
Ah, the Pertemps. One of jumps racing’s greatest creations. But I can’t really understand why Hugos New Horse is as big as he is. He’s only been raised two pounds for a rather convincing win at Ayr on his final start last season and makes him quite well handicap. In the colours of the Stewart Family, which carries some credibility, Paul Nicholls can get a Cheltenham winner on the board with this eye-catcher.
Syd Hosie had an incredible win on Trials Day last year with Rock My Way, which prompted some wild celebrations in the winners’ enclosure. Fate didn’t repeat itself at the Festival but comes to this race well handicapped. Whilst he might not have won on ‘good’, it might ride a little softer today which will benefit. He loves Cheltenham, and is worth to take on at 14/1 (BetVictor)
And I can’t really get past Party Business at 18/1 (Betfred). He’s coming off a run and a wind operation but is a regular runner over good-to-soft ground. He’s been waiting to get an attractive mark it looks lie he’s got it. He’s two pounds higher than his previous winning mark, which was at Aintree in 2022, and he could run a big race here.
3:45 – William Hill Novices’ Hurdle – Lisnamult Lad @ 6/1 (General)
Whilst Antrim Coast is odds-on for beating a non-favourite Willie Mullins horse last time out (And the Keith Donoghue Cheltenham factor), I’m unsure why John McConnell’s horse is 6/1. The trainer has sent the winner out twice in the last three years, and this horse seems like a wild thing. Three out of four over hurdles, his last two winning margins are a combined 44 ½ lengths. He has licence to step up in trip and can overturn the market.
Doing A Donny Rain Dance
Doncaster 2:10 – KAMEKO Futurity Trophy (Group One) – Dancing Gemini @ 5/1 (BetVictor)
This meeting could be called off, so ignore this if it is. But I still think that Dancing Gemini would still win in the swimming turf. Breeding-wise, Camelot won the Irish Derby on soft/heavy ground and won the Flying Scotsman on soft ground by 4 ½ lengths. Ice Max is the only one who has franked the form, but form goes out the window when the ground gets as bottomless as it is in South Yorkshire.
Just keep an eye out for Devil’s Point at 22/1 (888Sport). David Menusier won a Group One 2-Y-O race at Saint-Cloud on Sunday, and Devil’s Point has heavy ground in his breeding thanks to New Bay. He can run a big race on bottomless.