For jumps fans it’s all about Cheltenham’s International Meeting this weekend.
The December Gold Cup and the International Hurdle are featured, while Doncaster proves some very good National Hunt back-up on Saturday.
There are some good opportunities on the Flat also, with another busy betting weekend beginning early on Friday as we head somewhat randomly to Bahrain.
Friday 9th December 2022
11.20 Bahrain (Al Muharraq Cup Handicap) – BOX TO BOX
With nothing of major interest away from Cheltenham in the jumps realm on Friday, attentions turn to the card over in Bahrain.
This 1¼-mile handicap on the turf is a decent one, certainly it’s competitive, but is full of horses who should have peaked or are confirmed to be past their best in all truth.
What’s The Story, Commonsensical, Lucander, Inigo Jones and Marie’s Diamond are all British-based horses looking to grab the £36,000 winning prize pot, but three-year-old Box To Box is the only improver who looks like he will relish the conditions.
Harry Davies rides for Hugo Palmer and it’s a big chance for this fine young jockey to get some winning international experience.
11.50 Bahrain (Al Manama Cup Handicap) – NOMADIC EMPIRE
There’s another £36,000 prize for the winner of this five-furlong sprint handicap.
While David O’Meara’s Nomadic Empire isn’t expected to reach his career highs at this stage of his career, maybe not even perhaps quite his seasonal ones, he does have enough on quicker ground at these weights to suggest he’s well in.
King Of Stars, Get It, Digital and Soldier’s Minute can make an impact most likely, though some of the contenders aren’t drawn particularly well which dampens enthusiasm a wee bit.
Saturday 10th December 2022
12.55 Doncaster (December Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – JET PLANE
An interesting race, and as a Grade 2 you’d expect the quality to be bang on.
Mahler Mission has some questions to answer over fences but obviously has talent, Bellatrixsa gets a very handy weight allowance and Gentleman At Arms will be well fancied despite his form figures.
The one I like best however is Dan Skelton’s Jet Plane. Unlike his main rivals, he’s gone and done it over fences meaning we’re looking at real ability and not potential.
His win at Hereford recently was very easy and he has so much more than that to give, while he also stays the full trip and won’t mind the potentially quicker underfoot conditions.
1.30 Doncaster (Summit Juvenile Hurdle – Listed Race) – SCRIPWRITER
On the face of it this juvenile race comes down to two horses – Milton Harris’s Scriptwriter and Joseph O’Brien’s Nusret.
The Irish colt won nicely on his hurdling debut and the form looks good too. He also gets a handy 5lbs from his main rival but he is set to be rather short in the betting.
Scriptwriter has also won easily not once but twice, drifting across the track last time a little and being winning better than the margin at the line suggested.
Milton Harris’s horse was also the better Flat horse by some way, so considering we know he can jump being two from two over hurdles, that Flat ability can go a long way making him the value selection.
2.19 Newcastle (Novice Stakes) – NAZYMBEK
In a one-mile novice race at Newcastle these days, there may always be a potential future star lurking.
In this race there has already been solid form shown by Wonder Legend, James Ferguson’s runner being a Sea The Stars who should appreciate the Tapeta test, and especially by the Crisford’s Itricacy who was second on a similar surface on debut at Wolverhampton.
He sets a tough standard for the others to aim at that’s for sure, but Nazymek really stands out on paper and if opening up at a reasonable price may be worth taking a chance on.
This colt is by Kingman out of a Galileo mare. Beautifully bred, he is in the Derby next June while he and jockey Jack Mitchell have been sent here alone by Roger Varian who appears to think he can make a big debut.
4.00 Newcastle (Nursery Handicap) – CARIAD ANGEL
In this six-furlong nursery the majority of the market is likely to be taken up by Pocket The Packet.
Already a course and distance winner twice over, George Boughey’s gelding has won another pair of races in the past couple of weeks, including on December 7th at Lingfield.
His trainer does this quite a lot, but it doesn’t always result in the horses holding their form every time. He’s been consistent but not hugely progressive, so at these weights he could be vulnerable.
With that in mind I really like the improvement shown on this surface by Karl Burke’s Cariad Angel. Second to a William Haggas horse last time here, he can better that now and looks fairly well in under top jock Danny Tudhope.
4.50 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – ABBEY HEIGHTS
George Boughey runs another busy horse here, this time Pocket The Profit. Newcastle winner Vespasian is interesting back on Tapeta after a gelding operation, while Ahlawi did well to score last time and is another to consider.
Based on form, speed and potential, the one to side with looks to be Daniel & Claire Kubler’s Abbey Heights, ridden by Luke Morris.
They have the right man on board if things get tight here, but all in all there appears to be enough in the Dark Angel gelding’s profile to think he can back up his course and distance win in November.
Unlike many sprint handicappers, including a couple of his main rivals here today, he has been given enough time to recover and go again which is also an advantage.
5.20 Wolverhampton (Fillies’ Novice Stakes) – TARJAMAH
This is a novice race for the two-year-old fillies and there are potentially one or two nice ones in it for the future.
Tarjamah is the best of them, at least potentially, this beautifully bred Shadwell filly representing the powerful John & Thady Gosden yard who we know of course are so good with their better fillies.
She has targets to aim at set by Nakano and Marie Laveau which probably mean a debut run in the early to mid-80’s is required, something she is more than likely fully capable of which means she rates a bet at anything above 5/2.