We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
Coneygree has been taken out of the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March after it was confirmed that last year’s winner had sustained another injury and would miss his Xmas engagement.
I would be surprised if connections didn’t put the gelding away for the season and the Willie Mullins trained pair of Vautour and Djakadam are the new 9/2 joint favourites at BetVictor with the Dons Poli and Cossack 5/1. It is the former Don Poli who catches the eye and he looks a real stayer who will keep galloping when others have cried enough in March.
The ground is heavy for this afternoon’s card at Exeter and there is a terrific four-runner Graduation Chase over the best part of 2m 2f. Dunraven Storm is a C&D winner who must go close for Philip Hobbs given a clear round but I was taken with the chase debut of Kylemore Lough (1.50) and he is taken to make it two out of two over fences for Kerry Lee.
The selection made an impressive debut over the larger obstacles when making most to come home clear at Uttoxter and if he is as effective going right-handed he can maintain his unbeaten record with Jamie Moore in the saddle, his only mount at the meeting.
Cresswell Breeze jumped out to her left at Wincanton last time and achieved little in a similar contest given Harry Fry’s Blue Buttons ran as if she had never seen a fence in her life. Fry saddles Bitofapuzzle (2.20) in the Mares’ Chase this afternoon and it will be disappointing if she can’t make a winning debut in receipt of 6lbs from the previous winner given she was a classy hurdler and certainly has the scope for fences.
The mare Our Cat (2.50) won on the corresponding card last season from a 6lbs lower mark on soft ground and was an absolute revelation on that occasion. She failed to back up that performance but she has had a recent pipe-opener and Fergal O’Brien looks to have found a good opportunity for his charge.
Highway Storm (3.20) won a pint in his native Ireland last November and was well backed for his rules debut when well held in a Bangor Bumper last month. The Rebecca Curtis yard weren’t firing on all cylinders at the time and this stiff test of stamina should suit.
At Towcester, Gamain was a big disappointment on his chase debut, weak in the betting, but will do better in time and should be noted to see if there is market confidence. All three career wins for Newton Thistle (1.10) have been on today’s track including this corresponding race from a 30lbs lower mark last season. The selection is still 11lbs higher than when scoring back in January but he should be spot on after a recent run at Chepstow and going back right-handed might be the key.
In the Mares’ Bumper Cajun Fiddle (3.40) is taken to go one better having narrowly failed to justify favouritism when runner up at Wetherby on debut for Alan King. The winner at the Yorkshire track had previously won a point-to-point in her native Ireland and the selection is entitled to come on for the experience.
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