Morebattle Hurdle Day | Control Personal Ambition

Cheltenham Festival 2024

Lump Sum and Bowtogreatness made last weekend a good one at Kempton ahead of this week’s Morebattle Hurdle Day at Kelso.

Action also comes from Newbury as well on Saturday, giving a nice undercard to the main event of the Cheltenham festival in just over a week.

Let’s dive in.


1:55 Newbury – Heltenham @ 6/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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Heltenham was slightly unlucky not to get his head in front at Kempton last weekend, so you can see why the Dan Skelton yard wants to send him out while he is in good form.

The seven-year-old has plenty of ability, which is apparent based on his demolition job over course and distance in March 2023, and soft ground is something he loves.

By Masked Marvel, he was surprisingly weak in the betting seven days ago and looked slightly awkward for much of the contest, but he ran well without winning.

There’s also an argument to suggest that race was a strong piece of form as Golden Son has shown talent – notably when second to Iroko on UK chase debut – and Champagne Mystery is a Grade 3-placed chaser in France.

Back to a winning course and back left-handed should see him go well today for an operation in average form.


2:17 Kelso – Personal Ambition @ 3/1 with William Hill – 2pt Win

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A few people may know from my X profile that I have a small love for Personal Ambition, so it would be remiss of me not to fancy him to win the Grade 2 Premier Novices’ Hurdle.

Bar his disappointing effort at Sandown two starts ago, the five-year-old has impressed both me, trainer Ben Pauling, and jockey Kielan Woods, notably when dotting up at Doncaster on his latest start.

He showed a serious turn of foot to pick up after the last in what was, admittedly, a weak contest.

Jango Baie is no easy task at the head of affairs, but Personal Ambition doesn’t have a Grade 1 penalty to shoulder, so I’d chance him to get the better of Henderson’s contender here.


2:25 Newbury – Toonagh Warrior @ 4/1 with BetVictor – 2pt Win

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Looking at the third race at Newbury, a two-mile novices’ handicap hurdle, Toonagh Warrior is a horse who looks well-handicapped based on this season’s form.

Starting with the Newbury ground, we are expecting heavy conditions, something that should suit Stuart Edmunds’ six-year-old on pedigree.

By Well Chosen, the same sire as Willie Mullins’ soft ground-winning Carefully Selected and Gordon Elliott’s heavy ground-winning Jury Duty, his damsire, Kris Kin, produced plenty of horses who liked soft ground, so we have no issues here.

Furthermore, he won a novice hurdle on soft ground comfortably which would provide plenty of promise.

As for his form, his penultimate run at Ascot is interesting as he gave five pounds away to the then 104-rated Titan Discovery when just beaten by a head; the winner is now rated 121 and won off 115 in a Sandown handicap last month.

Also, Ben Pauling’s Bad was in third, who has since finished a close second in a valuable Ascot handicap, and King William Rufus was 13 lengths behind in fifth who has some form with Jeriko Du Reponet.

If you ignore his last run, which was his first test over two-and-a-half miles, he should have a great chance at bouncing back now over two miles.


2:50 Kelso – Under Control @ 7/2 with William Hill – 1pt Win

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Nicky Henderson is lining up the Kelso to Cheltenham bonus with Under Control, and it seems he has a good horse to try it with in this year’s Morebattle.

Henderson made no secret that the Gerry Feilden was the big early-season target for this five-year-old, a race he has previously used for top mares like Epatante, Floressa, and Theatre Glory.

Like Theatre Glory, it didn’t work for him this year, but a wind issue was discovered afterwards and that seemed to do the trick as she ran a corked behind Ashroe Diamond at Doncaster last time out.

The third, Gala Marceau, is a good mare based on her Lossiemouth form from last season despite failing to land a blow in her subsequent race in the Grade 3 Quevega Mares Hurdle.

However, the fifth, Stainsby Girl, won comfortably at Haydock on her next start, so the substance of form to that Doncaster race is strong.

As Kelso has missed most of the rain this week, the ground will be up her street and a mark of 138 looks lenient based on her form with Iberico Lord and the aforementioned mares.


4:05 Newbury – Charles Ritz @ 11/2 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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With the number of runners and the shape of the race, Charles Ritz could either take a massive step forward at Newbury on Saturday or hate this new step up in trip.

The eight-year-old by Milan should suit three miles well as his dam, Miss Ballantyne, won on her final career start over three miles, and he has raced as if the step up in distance would benefit him.

Trained by Tom George, his career so far hasn’t been easy as it took him 371 days to race in a novice hurdle after his second in a Wadebridge point-to-point and then he had another year off after his second novice hurdle start.

Speaking of that novice hurdle, he finished fifth at Ascot over 2m5f while giving weight away to the likes of Complete Unknown and Galia Des Liteaux, and he finished half-a-length behind Monbeg Genuis.

As a chaser, he was a snug winner at Exeter off 118 and George even tried to send him into a hot novices’ handicap chase at Prestbury Park that he didn’t really enjoy.

Back at a different track, he should go well.

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