Friday’s meeting at Cheltenham hosts plenty of punting potential throughout the day and while the official going currently reads Good to Soft, Good in places, I have worked on the basis that the heavy downpour received today will likely get into the ground over-night. It could be testing conditions come tomorrow morning.
CHANTRY HOUSE 4/5 will likely be all the rage for punters at a very skinny price tag in the opener at 12.10. Not a play here for me myself, but connections clearly think a lot of him and the debut bumper form back in March at Warwick has been well represented, notably by the 2nd and 3rd. A watching brief is in order here, but he is by no means a weak favourite on the card!
In the 12.45 we get a chance to flash some cash and with the improving but untried over the Cheltenham Fences Pym 11/8 a short enough price, it just might pay to take a chance on ROCKPOINT 5/1 (365). His last four starts have come at this venue and he put in a career-best RPR when chasing home a tired Wholestone at the November meeting on his latest start after making an abundance of ground-losing errors on his way around. He clearly enjoys running at this track and he made all in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at this meeting last year on his third start of the campagne. He again returns to this meeting after two subsequent runs over fences and now gets an extra furlong to help his cause. Unexposed over fences and on soft ground (form figs read 2,2,2,3). Stoney Mountain 10/3 is the most interesting runner of the rest but this is a tough ask on Chase debut despite that emphatic win over hurdles when last seen. Aye Aye Charlie 8/1 seemingly has a mountain to climb to turn the form around with the selection and Imperial Aura 13/2 having not convinced with his jumping (right) at Fakenham the 5/1 about the selection seems more than fair.
Another bet comes in the 1.20 Handicap Hurdle in the form of NEVER ADAPT 7/2 who could potentially be thrown in here off a mark of 128 after finishing third in a Grade 2 contest here when last seen in November 2018. The then three-year-old pulled very hard when going down to the start under Barry Geraghty and despite settling once there, she shot off again once the flag was raised. Pulling for 1m of the 2m contest she still held the lead coming down to the third-last before being swamped two-out and jumping the last in fifth place only to stay on again under a careful ride to finish 3rd, 3 3/4 lengths behind the now 146 rated and Grade 1 winner Quel Destin. In behind was the now 134 rated Katpoli and 137 rated Montestrel. Previously a 10l winner on heavy ground in France conditions should prove no problem and in the hope that she has matured a year on, she could prove a star going forward and at the prices, she rates a solid bet in this field despite the lay-off. Of the rest, the well-handicapped John Constable 22/1 could rate the main danger if rediscovering his previous form.
In the 1.55 Definatelyanoscar, 11/4 is all the rage amongst many judges but she has little room for manoeuvre off this handicap mark of 122 and with connections saying that they don’t want too much rain that just might be a red flag here and she rates little value at the prices. CHEQUERED VIEW 3/1 is a more appealing option and comes here in fine form having already taken care of Zara Hope 13/2 with that rival boosting the form next time out. Chequered View looked in control on that occasion from a long way out and it would be hard to see that rival reversing the form. Parlour Maid 4/1 takes a step up in class here after landing a weak race at Lingfield on return and after wind surgery and is entitled to improve for the run but will need too. Molly Carew 15/2 is the outsider of the field but an improved round of jumping can see her involved with conditions to suit. Not a race I am going to be getting stuck into.
The feature race of the day at 2.30 and ONEFORTHEROADTOM 4/1 gets a nice pull at the weights with West Approach 4/1 after running out of the handicap 7 weeks ago at the Open meeting. That form has been franked by the winner and the front four were nicely clear of the remainder. Harry Fry’s runner now gets blinkers for the first time. It is interesting that connections also used Cheekpieces for the first time after he had fallen in the handicap before an attempt at the Ayr Champion Chase worth £62,000 in which he travelled well until falling at the 14th. So the re-application of headgear can only be taken as a positive here and granted a clear round he looks handicapped to go well.
I’m not going to spend long on this X Country race 3.05 but EASYSLAND 5/1 would be a worthy rival to top weight Yanworth 4/1 who steps up into unknown territory trip wise and has a big weight to carry. Not a play for me.
A case can be made for many of the runners in the 3.40 but I am going to side with two and the first of those is MANOFPLENTY 33/1 E/W who has dropped more than 5lb below his last winning mark and now takes the step back up to 3m. He has lost his way of late but the longer trip and the soft ground will both be to his liking and represents some value in a tightly knitted contest where cases can be made for most. ASK BEN 4/1 did best of those ridden prominently in the valuable Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on return and holds strong claims if able to build on that run. This will be the first test of that form and it could prove to be very useful indeed.
My personal bet’s.
12.45 Rockpoint 5/1
1.20 Never Adapt 7/2
2.30 Onefortheroadtom 4/1
3.40 Man Of Plenty 33/1 E/W / Ask Ben 4/1