Cheltenham lends itself to thrilling finishes and the feature race on Friday, the staying handicap chase, was a belter.
The tenacious Cogry edged out Singlefarmpayment and Rolling Dylan in a great scrap after Theatre Territory had given favourite backers plenty of hope.
Noel Fehily delivered Singlefarmpayment from off the pace with perfection but, yet again, the eight-year-old could not quite finish the job off. He traded at 1.29 in-running on Betfair and, had it not been for a string of similar defeats, would surely have been matched at even shorter odds.
He has traded at 1.39 and 1.08 on other occasions at Cheltenham during his losing streak.
Singlefarmpayment must be fun to own and has age on his side. No doubt his day will again come good but, by then, most of us will have probably despaired of him ever again getting his nose in front.
On Saturday, the weather could play a part. The forecast is for rain to start falling early afternoon but, should it arrive earlier and in any quantity, the shape of several races will be transformed. Good luck.
I was on Rather Be at some fancy prices for the BetVictor Gold Cup last month and all was going well until, travelling strongly and minding his own business, he was brought down four out.
I’d also backed Happy Diva ante-post and she exited in the same incident. As a consequence I doubled my bet on Anteros in the next race and he fell at the fourth. Some days you are left wishing you had not got out of bed and that November afternoon was one of them.
Anyway, I digress. Who knows whether Rather Be would have won or not but he was moving with purpose and his in-running odds had shrunk to 5-2.
He’s not much bigger to gain compensation but, overall, this is a weaker race than the BetVictor and he meets the pair who fought out the finish – Baron Alco and Frodon – on better terms.
If there is one horse in the race with the potential to develop into a Ryanair Chase contender then it is him.
The fact that Solomon Grey has been off for ten months is a slight niggle but fitness is unlikely to be an issue for the Dan Skelton-trained six-year-old and I fancy he will win this before going on to even better things.
He is 5lb higher than when edging home at Market Rasen on his latest start, but he idled that day and was value for a bit more.
In any case, a mark of 135 still looks a handy one because he had previously shaped well when chasing home If The Cap Fits and Diese Des Bieffes at Kempton.
That form is strong and before that he had handed out an 11-length drubbing to Knocknanuss in a novices’ hurdle at Plumpton.
The absence of Laurina, who had been an odds-on when declared at the five-day stage, has left a much more open International Hurdle. I’m keen to play because Summerville Boy, the new market leader, looks one to take on after his lacklustre return in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
The New One might have gone at the game but you can just about make excuses for each of his three successive below-par runs and he’s back at his favourite stomping ground with his trainer/jockey riding high after a double at Cheltenham on Friday.
I cannot let him go unbacked at 9-1 because he’s a three-time winner of the race and if a first-time visor helps him get back to anything like the form he was in 12 months ago – when splitting My Tent Or Yours (received 6lb) and Melon – the front-runner will take plenty of pegging back. Tomorrow’s renewal lacks that depth.
He’s the one habitual front-runner in the line-up and, versatile regards the ground, will not be inconvenieved by any rain.
There are few better jumpers in training than Go Conquer and Tom Bellamy, who rides him for the first time, should be in for quite a thrill.
The nine-year-old is in his element when bowling along at the head of affairs and he should be able to dominate in this small field with the flat track and ground to his liking.
He looked in fine fettle when putting up a bold bid on his return at Ascot, being pegged back by Traffic Fluide and Art Mauresque in the closing stages.
This is a weaker race and I fancy he will drag O O Seven, the favourite, who lacks a recent run and is without a win for almost two years, out of his comfort zone.
Queen’s Magic has yet to translate her bumper form to hurdles and her backers have had their fingers burnt in her past two races as she has been turned over after trading at 1.26 and 1.38 in-running on Betfair.
On the plus side, that is reflected by her being able to race off a mark of 118 for her handicap bow and as a consequence the 14-1 available looks well worth a second look. She ran a cracker in a Cheltenham bumper in April when, but for a couple of late stumbles, she would have gone very close to landing a competitive 19-runner affair.
She meets Definitelyanoscar, who finished just in front of her that day, on 4lb better terms and that rival is chalked up at 6-1. I’ll also be supporting Definitelyanoscar, who has made a good start over hurdles and accounted for 15 rivals at Warwick last time.
The other to consider is Ratoute Yutty, who shaped well on her British bow at Ascot and represents last year’s winning connections. However, she has not been missed in the market at about 7-2.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
1.55 Cheltenham Rather Be £5 win at a general 7-2
Plus a £1 win double on the above pair
3.05 Cheltenham: The New One £4 win at 17-2 with Unibet
3.20 Doncaster: Go Conquer £2 win at a general 2-1
3.40 Cheltenham: Queen’s Magic £3 win at a general 14-1
3.40 Cheltenham: Definitelyanoscar £2 win at a general 9-2
£2 Win Patent
1.55 Cheltenham Rather Be (7-2)
2.10 Doncaster: Solomon Grey (7-2)
3.05 Cheltenham: The New One (8-1)
Plus 20p Win Super Yankee and 40p-each fivefold
3.20 Doncaster: Go Conquer (2-1)
3.40 Cheltenham: Queen’s Magic (14-1)