Cheltenham Race Preview, 13/12/2019

Friday December 13th

Some rain forecast

Cheltenham 2.30
BetVictor Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
3m2f – Going: Good to Soft –
Over the New Course – 12 runners

West Approach
Starts favourite for most chases he runs in, and for once justified his market position in a weak renewal of the Grade 3 over 3m3f here last month, held up last, briefly niggled along 13th, moved well enough in 6 lengths 6th going down the hill past omitted 3 out, started to pass rivals and going best home turn, niggled along approaching 2 out, soon ridden, disputed 2nd last under a ride, ridden, switched near side (stands’ side), ran on when in the clear to draw away, readily and decisive. Style marks, high; opposition, not much; jumping, not seriously tested. When his fencing was under scrutiny, he unseated 7th in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last time. This wouldn’t be as deep as the Ladbrokes Trophy, but it does look stronger than the race in November
Rock The Kasbah
Ran very well for a long way in Badger Beers Trophy at Wincanton last time, up with the pace and jumping soundly, ridden at the top of the straight, weakening only going to 2 out and well held behind Give Me A Copper. Dropped a bit in the weights and a lb higher than his winning mark from here in November 2018 (won that renewal of the Grade 3 3m3f chase), chances – although perhaps wouldn’t want it too soft (rained on the day of the Badger Beers)
Cobra De Mai
Best form of last season when winning at Cheltenham in April over this c/d from Rocky’s Treasure, but nothing since including in two runs this season, pulled up after jumping left at Ascot behind Vinndication then similarly well held behind Give Me A Copper in the Badger Beers Chase. Arguably better in the second half of the season
Dandy Dan
Races lazily and needs the jockey to get stuck in from an early stage, but ran well in the end when 2nd to Mysteree at Kelso on his reappearance, best work at the end. Unproven on soft ground, but with cheekpieces reapplied (best run last season was with that headgear, staying-on 2nd to Molly The Dolly at Ayr in April), could do something
Ran 8th in last season’s Grand National,  moved comfortably till hard ridden with some 12 lengths to find bend before 2 out, looked well held between last 2 fences. Was below form on reappearance when distant 4th to Crievehill at Haydock, niggled along 13th and headway to get in touch in rear of leading group, couldn’t go with leaders from 4 out, soon well held, kept on into distant 4th 2 out under a push, drew clear of 5th by last, kept on okay run-in under a hand ride though no impression on those ahead. A run that was neither one thing nor the other, but he did a bit of late work, and having been headed on the post when 2nd in this race last year off 146 (within half a length of Cogry approaching last, upsides jumping, hard driven, stayed on, led halfway up run-in under pressure, sustained effort, headed post), sure to go close off 140
Treackle Tart
Best to date so far by this mare when winning at Warwick in September on good ground, led 14th, niggled along 15th, steadied into and hit 17th, ridden into 3 out, not going as well as For Good Measure home turn, pair clear, hard ridden and stayed on going to 2 out, led half a length last under pressure, hard driven run-in, stayed on well last 150 yards, asserted close home. Nothing much last time at Fakenham behind Touch Kick, but not everyone acts well round there. Maximum mark and wouldn’t want the ground too soft
Impulsive Star
Often raced lazily last season but travelled better than normal when winning Classic Chase at Warwick back in January, made ground to dispute lead from there 16th to 18th, pushed along approaching 4 out, narrow advantage 3 out, ridden, led a length home turn, put under pressure approaching 2 out, was narrowly headed, hard driven, stayed on between last 2, a neck down last, driven to lead early on run-in, asserted last 150 yards, drew clear, decisive in the end from Calett Mad. Nothing else last season, in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham blundered 20th, rear and struggling under a ride 21st, tailed off when pulled up and eased to a walk before 22nd (that’s poor runs in the last two NH Chases), and similarly poor effort in the Scottish Grand National when last seen. Not sure Cheltenham is this one’s track
Won this race last year by a head from Singlefarmpayment, mistake 4 out, pressed on going to 3 out, pushed along approaching home turn and stayed on, hard ridden and was closed on going to 2 out, sustained effort going to last and middle of a line of 3 jumping, hard driven up the hill, stayed on strongest, led post. Ran his usual on reappearance when 3rd to The Conditional in the staying handicap chase at Cheltenham in October, up with the pace as usual and couldn’t find more after the last. Off last year’s winning mark, chance again
Beau Du Brizais
Good runs first two starts this season particularly close 2nd  at Wincanton two runs ago,  put under pressure 3 out, chased leader going to 2 out, stayed on, the better jump 2 out and only a length down, virtually upsides when steadied into last and left in front by White Moon’s fall, hard driven, stayed on, headed by Wandrin Star 75 yards out, no extra. On softer ground, wasn’t at his best in the Badger Beers at Wincanton last month, ridden and couldn’t find more from the second last and well held last, 5th beaten 10 lengths behind Give Me A Copper in the end. Doesn’t usually race left-handed and has no wins to his name this way round (modest effort when 4th to Chidswell in uncompetitive seven-runner renewal of the Grimthorpe at Doncaster last March)
Off since last November, when pulled up behind Cloth Cap at Catterick; most recent completion over fences a modest 4th to Lil Rockerfeller at Cheltenham in October 2018,  ridden into 11th and led, ridden into 14th and 15th, in close to 3 out, hard ridden, kept on, jumped 2 out in 2nd, hard ridden, weakened approaching last, pecked on landing, lost further ground up the hill, continued to weaken and nearly lost distant 4th. Go back far enough and there’s  a decent placed effort to his name at Cheltenham, staying-on-strongly 3rd to What A Moment in November 2017 after being off the bridle for a long while, but he’s been off more than a year, and trainer Charlie Mann’s last winner after more than a year off was left alone at the last when well held in a two-runner race
What A Moment*
No form after more than two years off the course since the track-win mentioned above under Pickamix in the amateur riders’ handicap in November 2017, holding on well as that one and eventual 2nd Sugar Baron gained on him hand over fist – second win in the race, following the 2016 running, and they are his only chase wins. Tailed off at Exeter and pulled up at Ascot behind Militarian on his last two runs. Connections now reach for the blinkers (David Pipe’s stats for first time blinkered-runners going back to June 2006 are 27 wins from 184 runners (15%), last such winner in April) , and he’s well treated on back form. At his best travels comfortably, and wanders/idles in front if he’s in the clear 
After the odd good run over fences to date, shaping well when placed over 3m at Punchestown behind Heron Heights last May (mistake 4 out, pushed along, hard ridden and outpaced 3 out, stayed on home turn, left chasing leader 2 out, hard driven, every chance when blundered last, ridden and no more), ran well when 4th to The Conditional (Cogry 3rd) in the handicap chase over the Old Course at the October meeting. Connections now apply blinkers and his trainer Harry Fry’s record with blinkered first time-horses is none from four, going back to 2014

Shortlist: Singlefarmpayment, Cogry, What A Moment

Cheltenham 3.40
Citipost Handicap Hurdle Class 2
2m7f213y – Going: Good to Soft –
Over the New Course – 12 runners

Kilbricken Storm*
After a winning chasing debut last November, the 2018 Albert Bartlett-winner was beaten officially 97 lengths in a Newbury novice chase behind Santini and put back over hurdles, with no success, tailed off in Stayers’ hurdle at Cheltenham behind Paisley Park (moved comfortably enough approaching 2 out, hard ridden after it. faded approaching home turn, caught a bump turning in, ended up wide, ridden and weakened approaching last, left alone nearing it, no more up the hill) and beaten similarly badly behind If The Cap Fits in Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree. Not now having to take on better horses, chance in handicap company
Champers On Ice*
Has come back in the form of his life, on a hattrick after winning at Ffos Las in November and in a more competitive race at Newbury at the end of the month, Went on, in close to 7th, ridden into 9th, was challenged 3 out, ridden, found extra, hard driven from 2 out, stayed on in narrow lead, reached for last, driven out, sustained effort under pressure, didn’t have a lot left at the finish but held on well from one For The Team. More to do again off what is now a maximum mark but might run well again
Ask Ben
Successful in novice hurdle at Ayr last season. Good comeback when close 4th to Stoney Mountain in Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Haydock on November 23rd, hased leader, allowed 1st 2 to break clear from 2nd and headed up main group from 3rd, closed them down to within 3 lengths 4th, chased new leader 9th, pushed along home turn, disputed lead 3 out, mistake 2 out, 1st 2 3 lengths clear, mistake last,  hard driven, all out, every chance till faded inside last 100 yards, lost 2nd then 3rd final strides. Eventually paid the price for being up with what was a very strong pace from an early stage, and had a hard race, but if he’s recovered from that then chances again – comes here unexposed
Falco Blitz
Winning reappearance in a novice at Fakenham in October. Stepped up from that with a good run in intermediate handicap hurdle at Cheltenham over 2m5f last month, moved comfortably till niggled along going down the hill to 2 out, led there and travelled best approaching home turn, came wide against stands side rail, pecked on landing last, very hard driven, headed 175 yards out, changed legs, no extra up the hill and 4th to Jatiluwih. Looked the winner and didn’t win, perhaps not coming up the hill, and definitely at the end of his tether quite quickly once given the office, changing his legs when headed – a finishing effort which suggests that going up to 3m is not a good idea (sire is not a stamina influence either)
Printing Dollars
Best run to date for this mare at Ayr last April,  disputed lead 8th, ridden and veered left approaching 3 out, hard ridden, stayed on, mistake 2 out, put under pressure, stayed on approaching last, hard driven, 1st 2 pulled clear, heaed 150 yards, out, no extra, beaten by Yeats Baby. Nothing much in two runs so far this term, in Listed mares’ event at Kempton last time disputed lead when went right 6th, led and in close to 7th, ridden into 8th, headed 9th, niggled along approaching 3 out, soon more firmly pushed, held place home turn, hard ridden and weakened home turn, dropped right back and looked heavy-legged approaching 2 out, well beaten when mistake there, well beaten 5th to Papagana. Dropped a bit in the weights, might not want too much rain
Smackwater Jack
Only win so far over hurdles in a novice at Ludlow last January. Was a good 2nd, beaten a neck, by Same Circus at Aintree on reappearance and stepped up on that when close 4th to Golan Fortune at Cheltenham in November,  in touch in rear of leading group 8th, pushed along and outpaced approaching 2 out, mistake there, hard ridden, stayed on home turn and disputed 3rd approaching last, hard driven and no extra up the hill, kept on, just lost out in battle for 4th last couple of strides. Didn’t really have a winning chance at any stage but it was a good run, entitling him to claims here
No Getaway*
Best to date over hurdles so far when making a winning reappearance at Hereford last month, tracked leaders, a little keen, mistake 3rd, raced wide, niggled along approaching 7th, ridden into 3 out, moved comfortably as drew upsides leaders 2 out, sent on, pushed along approaching home turn, drew clear, pushed along and continued to stay on approaching last, some 8 lengths clear jumping, pushed out, sustained effort, decisive by 13 lengths from One More Fleurie. A half-brother to One For Arthur, this one is sure to stay this new longer trip
Lungarno Palace
Some good runs last season including at Cheltenham in April, positioned midfield but momentarily planted himself at the start and gave the field a few lengths, rear, mistake 2nd, passed one or two rivals and midfield 5th racing wide, pushed along 8th, widest of all but made ground down the hill approaching 2 out, effort approaching home turn and with leaders, ridden and hung left straight, up to 2 lengths down, put under pressure and faded nearing last, hampered on landing, hard ridden and faded last 150 yards, lost 3rd, eased last few strides. Unseated 1st over fences at Kempton last time, very briefly thinking about it at the start. Well treated but not sure he’s over his best trip
Goodbye Dancer
Deteriorated through the season, tailed off at Cheltenham in April and ran below form at Huntingdon in May when last seen, mistake 3rd, headway and chased leader when rather propped 4th, niggled along 7th, every chance when mistake 3 out, hard ridden, dropped out quickly and detached last home turn, well held last behind For Good Measure. Joined Fergal O’Brien and well treated at his best, but has been beaten 9 lengths or more on all seven visits to Cheltenham and not for me
Man Of Plenty
Quick turnaround after finishing tailed off 11th behind Mack The Man in Listed handicap hurdle over 2m at Sandown last Saturday, pushed along and no headway after 3 out; has rather run in snatches on all starts so far this season including in Silver Trophy at Chepstow (last 6th, passed beaten ones to finish 8th to Flash The Steel). Beaten double digits most starts since winning last year’s renewal of the Sandown race, probably won’ be up to making an impact
Won at Plumpton last January, not with high style marks though – hard ridden and yet to make a place 9th, finally passed rivals and midfield on downhill run to 3 out, hard driven in 6 or 7 lengths 5th turning out of back straight, stayed on approaching 2 out, sustained effort under pressure approaching last, jumped it upsides, soon led, ridden out, stayed on well to pull clear, decisive in the end frmo Manning Estate. Running away from Plumpton for the first time and stepped up in class, didn’t do badly behind Champers On Ice at Newbury last time, closer order 7th, niggled along after 8th, more firmly pushed along turning out of back straight, held place approaching home turn, ridden along approaching 3 out, kept on approaching 2 out, held place to last, driven, kept on, no impression on those ahead, stuck to task. Good run and might do okay here too
Regarding Ruth
On reappearance and fifth run over hurdles, won at Fakenham on October 30th, led going best 3 out, went 2 to 3 lengths ahead bend before 2 out, still not shaken up approaching home turn, had gone 5 lengths clear by last, finally pushed along run-in, readily from Fakenham-specialist Todd. Acquitted herself well in Pertemps Qualifier at Market Rasen last time in which her overjumping at the second last cost her 2nd to Rapper; tracked leaders home turn, niggled along approaching 2 out where overjumped, pecked on landing and rider lost an iron, lost place, looked held last, ridden, kept on well run-in and was closing on the 3rd final strides. Progressing and not out of this

Shortlist: Kilbricken Storm, Champers On Ice, No Getaway

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