We’ve teamed up with BetVictor’s Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
The first day of Cheltenham’s three-day December Meeting is the racing highlight and, in the opener, I hope to see Nicky Henderson’s Angels Breath (12.10) make a winning debut in receipt of 10lbs from the Grade 2 winner Elixir De Nutz who may have been flattered when making all here last time.
The selection was bought privately after making a winning debut in a point in his native Ireland back in April and is an exciting prospect. The grey will get further in time, but he is taken to make a winning Rules debut for Seven Barrows.
Only four to post for the Novice Chase and The World’s End (12.45) can reverse course form with Ibis Du Rheu on 8lbs better terms over a slightly longer trip with the forecast good ground ideal. The selection did not jump as well as he had at Chepstow on debut last time and he has never won in four previous starts at Cheltenham, but he would have given Penhill a race when tipping up two out in the 2017 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase.
A Hare Breath never really took to the larger obstacles and has been dropped 3lbs for his reappearance here over fences last month. The ten-year-old has won from a higher mark in the past but preference in a competitive handicap is for Al Dancer (1.20).
The five-year-old has won his first couple of starts over timber and he might be up to defying an opening mark of 129. The selection won at Carlisle on debut – runner up a subsequent winner - before landing the odds at Ffos Las last time. The grey finished fourth in the Aintree Bumper on soft ground back in the spring and this is the fastest ground he has encountered to date.
Silent Steps landed a gamble at Southwell earlier in the month and a 7lbs penalty may not stop her following up in the Mares’ Novices handicap Chase. She must run well but I felt Black Tulip (1.55) ran into a very well handicapped rival when beaten 6l by Marienstar at Warwick last time and it is worth noting that the winner is now rated 11lbs higher. Tom O’Brien takes over in the saddle for Henry Daly on the mare who is 8/1 with BetVictor and can reward each way support.
I am convinced Theatre Territory is well handicapped at present but remain unconvinced that she is crying out for a step up to three-and-a-quarter miles although she wasn’t stopping when runner up here over three miles on her reappearance.
I felt Rolling Dylan (2.30) jumped and travelled well for a long way at Bangor on his reappearance and he gets the each way vote for Philip Hobbs at 12/1 with BetVictor despite Richard Johnson favouring recent course winner Rock The Kasbah (5/1 favourite with BetVictor) who has been raised 6lbs for that success. Note the latter’s primary objective is the Grand National in the spring.
Kloud Gate (3.30) has been raised 13lbs for winning at Leicester last month and he cannot be opposed at Doncaster under a 7lbs penalty for Gary Moore. The selection is very well handicapped on his flat form and jumped proficiently last week. He looks ahead of the handicapper.
Knocknamona (12.25) returned to form when second at Carlisle on heavy ground and he can land Bangor’s 3m Handicap Chase for the second time having landed the odds when scoring 12 months ago from a 9lbs lower mark.
In the finale at Kempton, I hope to see Tamerlane (8.45) overcome a 7lbs penalty for winning over C&D last week. Clive Cox’s three-year-old is a couple of pounds ‘well-in’ having been given a 9lbs rise by the handicapper earlier in the week.
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