Four To Follow: Pre-Christmas Cheer

Christmas is just around the corner and Cheltenham serves up some pre-festive cheer with the December Gold Cup. Plus, Protektorat features in the three-mile handicap, and we get a look in to the Albert Bartlett picture with the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle. All three feature in today’s Four to Follow.


A Storm Is Brewing

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1:50 – December Gold Cup (Premier H’cap) – Thunder Rock @ 4/1 (William Hill)

Thunder Rock looked every part of the winner when winning the Colin Parker at Carlisle. Mahler Mission backed the form up by stepping up in trip and narrowly missed out on the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury. Thunder Rock has performed round here before, and beaten Monmiral in the process, so has every right to be a well-backed favourite for the race.

An underrated performer in the field is Frero Banbou. He’s looked more comfortable stepping up in distance than he did last season, and that’s been evident by placing in his last two races. His mark is only two pounds higher than his last winning one and, backed up by Cepage yesterday, Venetia Williams’ horses thrives on this type of ground at this time of year. Decent each-way chance at 11/1 (BetUK).

Gavin Cromwell is the top trainer at Cheltenham this season so far. Six winners out of 14 runners at a 43% strike rate, he’s the man at Prestbury Park this season. He’s expressed his disappointment of Railway Hurricane being five pounds out of the handicap but has combated that with Connor-Stone-Walsh claiming the five pounds. He’s been placed twice at Cheltenham, and Ginny’s Destiny has backed up the form of his last race. Interesting at 22/1 (BetVictor, Betfred).


Let’s Put On A Show

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2:25 – The Sun Handicap Chase (Premier) – Broadway Boy @ 7/2 (William Hill, Betfred, BetUK)

Broadway Boy was nothing short of phenomenal on his last start. His love for the course is clear, but a new challenge awaits in the galloping nature of the new course. Fakir D’oudairies’ addition to the race makes Broadway Boy’s weight light and his jumping, if anything like last time, can put him in a league of his own.

Elvis Mail may be more suited to the borders of Kelso. But a slight three-pound raise in the weights won’t cause him much trouble. His two wins at this level should put him up there, but it’s a tougher test. He can stay and he can handle the ground too, so why can’t he run a big race? 12/1 (General) says he doesn’t.


Bob’s Your Uncle

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3:00 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade Two) – Shanagh Bob @ 9/4 (BetVictor, Boylesports)

Shanagh Bob is another one of those exciting novice hurdlers from the Nicky Henderson yard. After the impressive Plumpton win, Henderson was reserved in his judgement and is waiting to see how he handles the step up in trip. He should handle it, given his sole point-to-point win came over three miles.

The owner of the potato company that sponsors this race, Ronnie Bartlett, has a runner in the race that looks quite exciting. Cadell is trained by Lucinda Russell, who is arguably one of the top trainers up there with the likes of Nicholls and Henderson, and makes a gradual step up in trip, which will be relished. Potential has shone through on his first two starts over hurdles at Kelso and could show up here. A little overpriced at 6/1 (BetVictor, Betfred).


The Local Hero

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2:05 – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – Bonntay @ 5/2 (General)

Paddy Brennan has only two rides over Friday and Saturday. One was on Dysart Enos, which won, the other is on Bonntay. If Bonntay wins, Brennan will bring up a landmark 1500 career wins. What better horse to do it on. A two-time winner around the track, she steps up in trip for the first time since Market Rasen, and the first time up to two-and-a-half miles. It’s clear she’s been wanting the step up and she is a serious horse for the Fergal O’Brien.

The very best of luck!

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