Eight mudlarks to keep in mind at Cheltenham this weekend

By Tom Thurgood@tdthurgood
Sat 16 Nov 2019

From Desert Orchid to Altior: Six horses who have shone on deep ground at Cheltenham

The mud will be flying at Cheltenham this weekend after more heavy rain hit the track this week.

Here, we look at some contenders proven on deep going who may rise to the fore.


Race: 1.15, Saturday. Odds: 9-4.

Form on heavy going: 121

 Agrapart and Wholestone, right, met on heavy ground at Cheltenham (Focusonracing)
Agrapart and Wholestone, right, met on heavy ground at Cheltenham (Focusonracing)

This novice chaser was classy over hurdles and rated as high as 161 in that sphere, with a close second in the three-mile Cleeve Hurdle on heavy ground here a few years back reading particularly well.

Whether he will quite hit the same heights over fences is uncertsin, while you get the feeling that he would prefer dropping back to an extended two and half miles on this ground, but he’ll certainly handle conditions and we can expect a pretty bold show from him for the in-form Nigel Twiston-Davies.


Race: 1.50, Saturday. Odds: 11-4.

Form on heavy going: 21212711

The five-year-old shoulders top-weight in this Grade Three handicap chase but will class tell?

The seven-year-old has certainly enjoyed a nice prep for Saturday’s assignment, finally opening his hurdles account here last month on heavy ground (watch above) with an easy success.

Back over fences, he made all last time and could feasibly put his rivals under pressure in behind from a way out.

From 12 runners, David Pipe has a 33 per cent strike-rate with contenders over three miles at the November Meeting in the past 10 seasons.


Race: 2.25, Saturday. Odds: 16-1.

Form on heavy going: 1

Belami Des Pictons has a 100 per cent record on ground officially described as heavy, and by 22L no less in a novice chase at Warwick (watch above) a few seasons ago.

The gelding is one from two in ‘very soft’ ground in France and beaten under a length for his Auteuil defeat, while he has three further wins on soft ground in Britain.

The lightly-raced eight-year-old is yet to win after a break, but gave Waiting Patiently a race at Carlisle this time two years ago on his return and this test should suit, even if his overall profile raises a few questions.


Race: 3.00, Saturday. Odds: 10-1.

Form on heavy going: 1111179

Warwick Races

While we need to delve a little deeper than the superficial reading, Vieux Lion Rouge will certainly have no problems with conditions at the weekend.

Progressive and well-placed during his bumper and novice hurdling days, he racked up numerous wins on heavy ground and his two defeats were in the Becher Chase and Grand National.

This is his first hurdles start for four and half years and David Pipe is likely eyeing a nice prep before another crack at the Becher or Welsh National. Given conditions, though, do not be surprised if he outruns his odds.


Race: 2.25, Sunday. Odds: 7-4.

Form on heavy going: 1

Watch how Politologue finished second on testing ground in the Champion Chase last season

Politologue was admittedly a very short price, but still won by 59 lengths in Listed company at Exeter on his sole start on heavy ground and he has plenty of excellent form on the soft.

A Grade Two winner at Kempton, his narrow defeat by Altior in last season’s Champion Chase in similar conditions reads very nicely and, with that horse now set for longer distances, the eight-year-old could take pretty high rank in the two-mile chase division this season.


Race: 2.25 Sunday. Odds: 7-1.

Form on heavy going: 1141

Saint Calvados loves heavy ground and posted a career-best from a mark of 155 in handicap company here last month, his first start after wind surgery.

From his heavy ground form, his sole no-show was a wide-margin defeat behind Footpad in the Arkle, a race for which he was fancied after a strong novice campaign but failed to give his running after racing enthusiastically.

Initially set for the BetVictor Gold Cup, trainer Harry Whittington was mindful of running his stable star under top-weight in the prevailing conditions and the six-year-old is now set for the Shloer Chase.


Race: 3.00, Sunday. Odds: 10-1.

Firm on heavy going: 311

Quel Destin has a tall task ahead on handicap debut, the only four-year-old in the field yet required to carry top-weight in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle.

But we know he handles these conditions and he’s a tough and hardy sort that will likely give generously at the finish.

He did just that on heavy ground here last time (watch above) in the four-year-old hurdle, while his domestic form on testing ground is complemented by Grade One success at Chepstow last season.

He has six wins from nine starts for Paul Nicholls and has only finished out of the placings once.


Race: 4.00 Cheltenham, Sunday. Odds: --

Form on heavy going: 1

Trainer Nicky Henderson thought his debutant wouldn’t handle the heavy ground at the Showcase meeting last month, but the four-year-old showed a turn of foot in an impressive start in the JP McManus silks.

While the form is largely untested, the runner-up represented an in-form stable which landed the race the previous year and we’re very likely dealing with a pretty decent prospect.

He doesn’t have to conceded weight for that success and looks the likeliest of the six other previous winners engaged.

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