Cheltenham returns this Saturday with the all-important November Meeting taking place, but given Friday’s cancellation and the headache of very heavy ground to contend with it could simply be a glorious watching brief at Prestbury Park rather than a big betting mission.
So, while contenders are emerging for the Cheltenham Festival in March over in Gloucestershire and that’s something we all should keep a keen eye on, there may be better punting value to be had elsewhere on Saturday.
This week we have a mix of flat and National Hunt tips with both the UK and Ireland in focus, beginning at Uttoxeter with a right old slog of a handicap chase:
1.20 Uttoxeter (Handicap Chase) – PETITE POWER
While hoping to have more success a little closer to home on the heavy ground at Cheltenham, Fergal O’Brien sends just this one horse across to Uttoxeter and a look at the ten-year-old Petite Power’s profile suggests the trip could well prove to be worthwhile for both him and us.
Despite his age he’s only run 11 times over fences and possibly hasn’t reached his peak quite yet, so that fact allied with the information that he won very well last time out (suggesting he could be well ahead of the handicapper just now), as well as the fact that some of his better form has come on very soft ground, he has an outstanding chance at the weights.
Once rated 125 and coming into this race still 5lbs short of that figure despite going up for his latest win, he can see off a field here that includies place contenders Goodnight Charlie and especially Diger Daudaie, who is probably his biggest challenger based on my ratings but who with luck should be a few lengths short when it counts.
1.25 Punchestown (Craddockstown Novice Chase – Grade 2) – MOON OVER GERMANY
There is plenty of representation here from controversial Gigginstown Stud, however their fleet aren’t necessarily fancied to take this important Grade 2 race with Henry De Bromhead’s Moon Over Germany highly thought of and prepared to go in again here.
While having the benefit of being more experienced than the rest of this field it seems, Moon Over Germany also ticks the box of being an improver while his best form to date has been on soft ground and that bodes very well indeed for this contest.
Of the others in the line-up Éclair De Beaufeu and Mount Pelier look to be the best challengers, though with the popular Rachael Blackmore on board some attention (and no little money perhaps) will be heading the way of Notebook too before the off.
2.10 Lingfield (Gillies Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – MAGIC LILY
These end of year races on the all-weather are still given somewhat of a bad reputation by punters, but the dark days of poor quality horses taking up space in such events are surely long gone and in the case of this particular Listed event, there could be at least one horse who still has Group race ambitions after the turn of the year and so it is important to keep an eye on.
The horse in question is the Group 1 placed Magic Lily for the Godolphin operation and, despite her injury and fitness problems, she can still figure at the highest level perhaps over in Dubai during the Carnival early next year with trainer Charlie Appleby very adept and winning out there for Sheikh Mohammed’s team.
Third to Laurens in the Fillies’ Mile two seasons ago when not beaten far at all, Magic Lily returned from a long old layoff when only just beaten at Listed level in France in early October, a performance only around 10lbs lower than her previous best at Newmarket.
With that run under her belt she can go on now, the daughter of New Approach promising to reach at least Group 3 level very quickly if not higher and so unless she has a distinct hate for this sort of surface, we should see a high-quality performance here.
Aidan O’Brien runs Simply Beautiful in this and we can never ignore one of his coming across the Irish Sea, the highlight of fully 13 runs this season probably being her third behind Fanny Logan. She is solid, but we probably know her level now while there could also be strong performances from Scentasia and the overpriced and undervalued Maid For Life.
3.15 Lingfield (Golden Rose Stakes – Listed Race) – SOLDIER’S MINUTE
Lord North takes his chance again in the middle of Lingfield’s three Listed races and it would be great to see him win again as he climbs the racing ranks for John Gosden, but he is not a betting proposition at all at a best priced 4/6.
But, in the last of the Listed events over the quick six furlongs, we may see a big performance from Keith Dalgleish’s Scottish raider Soldier’s Minute and it seems he has been overlooked somewhat by the odds compilers, very much to our advantage it seems.
At prices reaching right up to 8/1 on Friday, the son of Raven’s Pass is great value having recently run easily a career best at Kempton over this trip when winning a fair handicap when well backed.
He can improve again from that performance and again has the assistance of the excellent Joe Fanning up top, and as a horse apparently getting quicker as he gets older moving from Kempton to Lingfield may well be another advantage for him leading to perhaps a new career high.
Likely market leader Gifted Master remains a solid proposition having run second over seven furlongs at this track recently, while the competitively priced three-year-old Leodis Dream of David O’Meara’s yard could also land a blow having done well to score over five furlongs across at Chelmsford recently.