UK racing this weekend looks to Cheltenham on Sunday
I am changing the format, bucking the trends, and generally messing the boss about this week having bypassed the Saturday cards to focus instead on Cheltenham on Sunday for a change – after all, we all take an interest in the sport we love seven days a week is why no on the Sabbath as well.
Before we get down to the jumping card, a quick mention of the International Jockeys in South Africa on Sunday racing at Turffontein in an event that has received far too little publicity in the press in the UK with the Racing Post not even listing the runners at this stage of Saturday afternoon.
Good luck to the likes of P J McDonald who so deserves his invite after a great season, and staunch Everton supporter Martin Dwyer as well as everyone else. Although I never ever see jockey challenges as something to speculate on financially, they seem sure to enjoy their time in South Africa win or lose and will undoubtedly be very warmly welcomed.
On to Sunday afternoon in the mud at Cheltenham and one of the most visually stunning racecourses in the World and I have to add the November meeting is top class but without being quite as crowded as it will be in March.
Six races makes for an unusual card these days and something other jurisdictions must look on with disdain but every single one is a quality event as you would expect here, with very few bad horses daring to lock horns at Prestbury Park.
I’m a tight wad, ask anyone, so I will only be working with three races today, starting with the Greatwood Hurdle at 3.00pm, the race of the day with a guaranteed £100,000 in total prize money.
One look at the stats tells me that not a single favourite has won this in the last ten years, nothing bigger than 40/1 in the last twenty, and nothing older than eight for what that’s worth, while five-year-olds have dominated with ten winners for a 50% strike rate.
Having read that and researched it, even I am wondering why I will be backing The New One each way, but sometimes you just have to let your heart rule your head, it doesn’t make any sense financially but it gives you a warm feeling, until the end of the race anyway.
Nigel Twiston-Davies trains the nine-year-old who has already won connections close to a million pounds in prize money and has won nineteen of his thirty-two career starts. Horses invariably take more getting ready as they get older, and wiser, which makes his win at Ffos Las in the Welsh Champion Hurdle all the more meritorious after six months off. Although he has top weight here it has been carried to success four times in the last and we can be assured of a brave performance win or lose.
The Sharp Novices’ Hurdle at 3.30pm may only have a pretty poor turnout of five runners, but three of them won last time out with the other pair finishing second and third. Dame De Compagnie impressed on her debut for Nicky Henderson when hacking up at Uttoxeter and is the forecast favourite but her trainer adds a hood this afternoon which sets alarm bells ringing for me.
It makes me wonder whether she gives her all and if that is the case, this much tougher field could find her out, and I will have a small bet on Colin Tizzard’s Slate House instead. A son of top National Hunt sire Presenting, he made all the running to win over course and distance and if he tries the same here then it will be interest9ng to see if the favourite has the resolution to get past him up the run in.
Lastly, we have a bumper at 4.00pm to round off the card, before dark, hopefully, where my new-found admiration for the Colin Tizzard stable becomes even more evident with an each way look at Sizing Cusimano first time out.
Rumoured to be working really well at home with plenty of the stable’s better hoses, the son of Midnight Legend is a full brother to Meet The Legend who is pretty decent himself and although this is a tough bumper to start your career in, with four of them a winner last time out, they think that much of him that he can still run a huge race today as he looks to live up to his 100,000 Euro price tag.
The New One Each Way 3.00pm Cheltenham Sunday
Slate House 3.30pm Cheltenham Sunday
Sizing Cusimano Each Way 4.00pm Cheltenham Sunday