The main focus this weekend is Cheltenham’s November Meeting and there some nice opportunities there. It’s Paddy Power Gold Cup Day which is huge business, but here we concentrate on matters elsewhere round the country.
Lingfield hosts a good Flat card featuring a valuable handicap and two Listed races, all of which we’re involved in, while up at Wetherby over the jumps there is also some fine action.
We have three selections from each track on Saturday beginning with a novice event in Yorkshire.
12.43 Wetherby (Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase) – MORIKO DE VASSY
Having been considered a potential graded horse over hurdles not long ago, should Moriko De Vassy jump well enough on his chasing debut then it would seem he’d have a little in hand on the handicap.
Daryl Jacob’s mount will be loving conditions at the Yorkshire track and is very good value in what is a small field, with Notlingtillmay also capable while Zacony Rebel and Minella Plus may vie for favouritism.
1.18 Wetherby (Handicap Hurdle) – ONAGATHERINGSTORM
Cheltenham trainer Fergal O’Brien has sent Onagatheringstorm to Wetherby and he was also quick to book top man Brian Hughes for the ride. The combination may well be very popular but at the time of writing are surprisingly not favourites to win this event.
On his return after a wind op and a break (off since February), Onagatheringstorm should have finished second at Cheltenham in October but ran out of steam and dropped to third going up the hill. That still represents good form in truth.
He will be all the better for that run now and can beat not only that finish, but his past performances too which makes him a strong prospect in this event.
Rafferty’s Return provides some good opposition if he’s fit enough first time up this season, while young hurdler Iroko is of course of interest but at the moment he doesn’t look that well handicapped coming out of juvenile races, although time will naturally tell on that score.
2.00 Lingfield (Handicap) – MONTATHAM
Although it could be close between the three-year-old Tacarib Bay, Hafeet Alain, Excel Power and Montatham, the speed that the last-named horse is capable of could be the deciding factor on this track.
Already taken into account is the slight regression that is possible overall for Montatham’s form given his age, though it speaks volumes that during an era in which Shadwell have sold so many horses they chose to keep this one on at six years old and as a gelding too.
After a year off the track, William Haggas’ runner returned last month on softer than ideal ground and ran well enough, putting him spot-on for this task. He has the speed and the class to take this down and is value to do so.
2.28 Wetherby (Introductory Hurdle) – MATATA
This race is all about possibilities, progress and untapped potential so it would be unwise to try to base your selections too much on recent form of any kind.
Fruit N Nut’s form is best for what it’s worth, but he’s been away for over 400 days and won’t necessarily be better than some of the younger hurdlers he now comes up against.
One of those is four-year-old Matata and we have no idea what level he can reach. Bought by top connections after a taking point-to-point win, he led all the way on his hurdling debut four weeks ago and was never troubled at all.
The numbers tell us that it was a 7½-length win and we can guess at what handicap mark he’d be given but in reality, it was a light training session for him as we was never challenged at all and he’s capable of very much better.
He’s the one with the most potential so gets the vote at reasonable odds, ahead of the aforementioned Fruit N Nut.
2.35 Lingfield (Golden Rose Stakes – Listed Race) – LOGO HUNTER
This isn’t the most valuable race you’ll see on the Flat, but it is a Listed event and also a fast-track qualifier for the very valuable All Weather Championships Finals at Newcastle next April.
Some of the main contenders here are rock-solid, but they are somewhat old timers now. There may not be a whole lot to choose from nowadays between Harry’s Bar, Summerghand and Judicial in fact but they’ll all have their supporters which should balance the betting market nicely.
The four-year-old Logo Hunter on the other hand is just getting going. One of his better performances was when he chased home the very good Manaccan last time over five furlongs at Dundalk and he’s on the up.
It seems on that and other evidence that he’ll stretch out much better over this extra furlong, so with the trip seen as ideal and the fact he is proven on Polytrack he has an obvious winning chance.
3.10 Lingfield (Churchill Stakes – Listed Race) – BOLSHOI BALLET
Another Listed race and another fast-track qualifier, this time over a mile and a quarter.
Of the two John & Thady Gosden horses I like Forest Of Dean more than Harrovian now he’s not penalised on the all-weather which has been his undoing before.
Algiers was impressive at York but he’s been good so far on dirt and on softer ground so this may prove to be a bit quick. Missed The Cut is capable of winning this, but I’m not convinced by Quality Road progeny on this surface, especially with Sea The Stars in his pedigree.
Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet could be the one. Famed for going off 11/8 favourite for the 2021 Derby, he is still a colt at four and could be seen as valuable by Coolmore.
He’s had his problems but he’s also put in some big performances, especially abroad in group/grade races and he wants it quick so this could be the perfect scenario for him.