Chris Dixon's top tips for Sunday: Make room for Plus One

By Chris Dixon
Sun 18 Nov 2018

Sundays do not get much better than this for racing fans with the third and final day of Cheltenham’s November meeting taking place alongside top-level action at Punchestown and good cards from Cork and Fontwell.

The Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is the feature event at Cheltenham and I’ve got a fancy in that, while elsewhere on the card I’m looking forward to the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase (1.50) that sees Claimantakinforgan at the head of the market.

At 2.15, all eyes will be on Ireland as Samcro, Faugheen and Supasundae do battle in a fantastic renewal of the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

I won’t be having a bet but I will be cheering on Samcro, who remains a potential star of the season ahead despite being beaten on his return at Down Royal a couple of weeks ago.

Fontwell is in danger of getting lost to some degree on a day like this but it would be the feature UK card by some margin on most Sundays and though I haven’t gone for him as one of the four selections on the day, I do think Robert’s Star looks an interesting runner as he goes up in trip for the Sun Racing Southern National at 2.40.

Many of today’s tips do come from Fontwell though, starting with the opener.

12.25 Fontwell: Neetside at 13-2

Although she’s yet to win a race Neetside has been on the radar for a while as a mare of interest for a low-grade handicap. Regularly a strong traveller through her races, she shaped quite well in some fairly competitive low-grade handicaps off higher marks than this last season and those efforts suggest she’s up to winning a race of this nature off her slowly declining rating.

Probably in need of the run on her return to action at Stratford just over four weeks ago, she’s likely to strip fitter and that form has been upheld by the follow-up victory of the winner and the second horse again hitting the frame next time off an increased mark.

1.30 Fontwell: Plus One at 9-2

Global Citizen took off upon joining Ben Pauling from Jonjo O’Neill last season and it’s interesting the same owners have made that stable switch with Plus One.

Having shaped nicely on his debut at Wincanton when splitting a pair of solid horses, he was a shade disappointing at Chepstow next time but the testing ground was perhaps against him as he got back on track when returned to a sounder surface behind Station Master at Southwell on his final run.

Those pieces of form suggest Plus One hasn’t been too harshly dealt with in receiving an opening mark of 117 and as the winner of an Irish point-to-point on his second start in that sphere and with a pedigree for chasing, he looks the type to make a better chase than hurdler so could improve quite a bit for the switch to fences on his handicap debut.

2.05 Fontwell: Tazka at 2-1

Gary Moore runners are always of interest at his local jumps track and he also does very well with his juvenile hurdlers so his filly Tazka catches the eye.

An import from France where she showed ability without winning on a handful of outings on the Flat, she shaped well on her hurdles debut Kempton last month when making a good move from a poor position before flattening out late on.

The winner that day was Quel Destin, who boosted the form with a Grade Two win at Cheltenham yesterday, and this race looks less competitive so I’m hoping for a big run from Tazka.

3.00 Cheltenham: Western Ryder at 13-2

This is clearly a very competitive handicap but Western Ryder has the ability to win one of these off a mark of 146 and has been aimed at this race since the end of his novice campaign last season.

A smart bumper performer, he has some very strong novice hurdle form from last season, including a win here when he gave weight and a beating to future Grade One winners Lalor and Summerville Boy.

Unable to make a winning impact in Graded company himself, he still ran with credit in both the Supreme here at Cheltenham and the Mersey at Aintree and remains an exciting prospect for his connections.

Already proven in big fields at this track, his ability to stay further will be no bad thing in this race and I’m expecting a big run.

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