Its a beautiful Spring morning as Cheltenham’s two day April meeting gets underway today at 2:05.
The racing might not the same quality as the festival itself but there are some hotly contested races so lets see if we can dig out a few winners today.
The first race is a class two 2 mile 4f novice hurdle and it sees five runners go to post. Blair’s Cove is the dark horse in this race.
It showed a fair level of form in Irish Bumpers. Has it’s stable and hurdles debut today. This yard does well with ex Irish horses and this one could well outrun it’s big odds.
Based on the ratings and form though there is one clear choice in this race and that is the Nicky Henderson trained WILLIAM HENRY.
He was impressive earlier in the season and ran a cracker to be 2nd to Pingshou at this track.
He also ran very well when 2nd in a grade 2 behind wholestone on his last run which was back in January.
That Pingshou form gives him a great chance in this.
That horse won a Grade 1 novice at the Aintree Festival recently.
William Henry isn’t much of a price at 8/11 but he should be winning this.
The 2:40 is the Silver Trophy handicap chase.
Most of these ran at the festival itself in a race won by Road to Respect. That horse came out at the weekend and beat Yorkhill.
Thomas Crapper got the closest to that Road to Respect in that race at the festival but Starchitect was an unlucky horse in running.
He since ran a solid race when 3rd at the Aintree Festival over a trip too far for him. He drops back to his best trip here and is sure to run a big race.
He’s weighted to reverse the placings with Thomas Crapper and he should confirm placing with the likes of Henryville, Village Vic and Art Mauresque.
STARCHITECT is my selection for this race at odds of 7/2.
The 3:15 is a handicap hurdle and a few of these ran at both the Cheltenham festival and the Aintree festival. There are many with chances here.
I fancied Its’afreebee for a novice handicap chase at the Cheltenham festival but he ran no sort of race and pulled up. He’s reverting to hurdles today.
If he shows anything like the form he showed when 3rd in the Neptune a season back he’d go close.
He has a lot to prove though based on the last run. Divine Spear is a consistent sort and should give his running yet again today.
His last two runs were both good and only lost out in the closing stages in both. He may just be too far up the ratings to win this.
The one I like is DRUMCLIFF. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this horse yet. He beat a future graded winner when winning on debut.
Last season he was thought good enough to run in a grade 2 himself. He was out of his depth then though. He’s been running well this season without winning but his last run suggested that he may be getting off the mark soon.
He’s been unlucky and this better ground and stiffer track may well be the making of him today.
The 3:50 is a 3 mile 4f handicap chase which sees twelve runners go to post.
The 14 year old Any Currency may well be having his final run in this. He won the cross country race at the festival last year but later got the race taken off him.
He won this very race last year too off the same mark. He hasn’t shown anywhere near that form this season though. It would be great to see him winning this but from a betting perspective I’m going to go elsewhere with my pick.
Spookydooky is a dour stayer who ran a gallant race to be placing in last years midlands national.
He didn’t run so well in it this time round though and he would have preferred softer ground. Doing Fine has been knocking on the door of late for his new trainer.
His last three runs which all yielded 2nd’s have been the best form he’s shown in a while. Saying that though he has not won for 3 years.
I can see him filling the runner up spot yet again today. The one I like is a horse that really impressed me earlier in the season and that is the Fergal O’Brien trained Troika Steps.
This horse won very easily at the October meeting at this track. He made virtually all and when looked like tiring at the last he went away from them up the hill again.
He followed that run up with another great run at this track at the November meeting. He made all up until the finish when he was just reeled in by a progressive horse.
He was down the field on his next start and failed to finish the course on his next starts. He has now slipped down to a mark 1lb below his 2nd at this track in November.
The return to the track should suit too.
If he sees out the trip I think TROIKA STEPS will go close to winning.
The 4:25 is a 3 mile hurdle and it’s an open affair. Max Forte ran very well for a long time last time out when 4th. It was on ground that was way too soft for him.
He should be seen in a better light today on better ground.
This is a very winnable race and MAX FORTE is a decent each way price at 13/2.
The 5:00 is a four horse race but it looks a match on form. Marracudja and Mick Thonic should fight this race out. Marracudja is a course winner but he pulled up last time out when breaking a blood vessel.
It’s always a bad sign when horses do that and I don’t think you should be backing this horse at very short odds today. Mick Thonic is no sure thing either but he looks the safer option at 7/4.
His connections are in top form and they cleaned up at Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.
MICK THONIC looks the safest bet in this race.
The final race on the card today is a conditional riders handicap hurdle at 5:30. I can see Solatenif and Poker School fighting this one out.
They have the best form in the race and both look progressive types. I’m going to have to side with POKER SCHOOL though.
He keeps on winning and does not look like stopping.
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