By Steven Dowler (@ArchitectTips)
The second day of Cheltenham's Showcase Meeting offers plenty to excite the punter on Saturday and also contributes three of the six races in Saturday's Scoop6.
Having not been won on Champions Day, the bet offers a rollover of £78,328 in the win pool so the challenge of finding the winners of six tricky races mixed between Flat and jumps provides the prospect of a potential delicious payout if successful.
Good luck to all Scoop6 participants!
Selections: ALLMANKIND & BOTOX HAS
One of last season’s leading juvenile hurdlers, ALLMANKIND, will make his eagerly-awaited return to action in Saturday’s opening hurdle at Cheltenham. Dan Skelton’s Grade One winner had a startling juvenile campaign, assembling a hat-trick of stylish victories between November and December.
He won all those races by a combined 48 lengths and those performances saw him sent off 7/2 for the Triumph Hurdle where led for a long way before fading late on, and while he ultimately only finished third, he still ran with great credit.
He is extremely tidy over his hurdles and gets from A to B very efficiently. Front-running tactics are likely to remain the plan for him again here and with the prospect of plenty more improvement to come this season, this exciting four-year-old is handed the vote to continue the strong stable form of Dan Skelton.
Gary Moore’s BOTOX HAS must also come into the equation though and is another one I’d consider for your ticket to be sure of a top-two finish between them in this interesting heat. He looked very good last season, winning two of his three starts, and doesn’t have a lot to find with Dan Skelton’s charge, having got to within two and a half lengths of him when the pair clashed in a Grade Two at the Open Meeting.
It’s not inconceivable to see Gary Moore’s runner reverse the form on more favourable terms here and he looks the main danger in receipt of a valuable 4lb from the favourite.
This is a competitive handicap and one which is set to be run at an honest pace, which should suit Robert Cowell’s ISHVARA, who was much improved when making a winning reappearance in handicap company at Haydock in June and has maintained a strong run of form since. Runner-up in three of her six starts since, the handicapper appears to have been quite lenient in raising her just 1lb for her half-a-length defeat at the hands of Blue De Vega at Leicester.
In conclusion, this race does demand a career-best, but she’s going the right way and gets the nod in this tight event. Wrenthorpe has to be greatly respected with a tendency to peak at this time of year, but he’s now 5lb higher in a tougher race.
The main attraction on the card at Doncaster is the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, the third leg of the Scoop6.
This race invariably throws up a high-class performer and it's particularly significant that Aidan O’Brien relies solely on Wembley for his bid to nab an incredible tenth win in the race.
He’s been placed in Group One company the last twice over seven furlongs and has looked as though he’d appreciate the step up to one mile. He’s the clear top-rated on official marks and is clearly on an upward curve of form. He merits his place at the head of the betting and is hard to oppose for Scoop6 purposes.
Selections: TOBEFAIR & CHAMPAGNE COURT
This year’s highly-competitive renewal is headed by last year’s winner TOBEFAIR, whose presence means plenty of his rivals carry only low weights. However, despite his burde this horse has to be given the utmost respect given his record at Prestbury Park which reads 211346.
Only 2lb higher than for his win twelve months ago, he was far from disgraced when sixth in the Stayers’ Hurdle here in March. Jack Tudor has been booked for the ride and his useful 5lb claim is set to reduce his 11st 12lb burden. Another bold bid must be anticipated.
The one I’m going to nominate as a second option is CHAMPAGNE COURT, who enjoyed a productive campaign last season. Having travelled noticeably strongly prior to finishing an excellent second on his reappearance at Chepstow in a Grade Three event, he flourished over fences with back-to-back victories at Plumpton and Sandown before running well to finish above midfield over 2m4f twice at this track, including at the Cheltenham Festival.
The fact that he has a 9lb lower mark over hurdles compared to his chase mark probably goes a long way to explain why he lines up here. This trip does pose a minor question mark, as he is yet to tackle three miles, but if he does stay, he has the class to take a hand and should be included in your perm.
Selections: FRODON & SENSULANO
A competitive field assembled for this valuable handicap chase and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained course-specialist Cogry is sure to be a popular choice having no doubt appeared in plenty of Scoop6 tickets over the years. He won this race in 2017 and was placed in the following two years. Put simply, he loves it around here.
Whether he can compete with the likes of the Paul Nicholls-trained FRODON might be a different matter though. Nicholls has his team in good form and his admirable top-class chaser will be the centre of attention in this event. He has a fantastic record here, including victories in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, Cotswold Chase and Ryanair Chase in the 2018/19 season.
Although not at his best last term, it was to his credit that he still managed to win a Grade Two at Kempton. He has to give plenty of weight to these rivals but jockey Bryony Frost has an excellent 39% strike-rate when riding over fences at the track and this horse's good record fresh enhances confidence.
Another who makes plenty of appeal is the Noel Williams-trained SENSULANO, who rates an interesting candidate off a very light weight on her return to action. I am surprised this mare is available at such a big price as she is undoubtedly well-treated on the pick of her form last season. I wouldn’t have any qualms about her stamina, given that she seemed to stay the trip well enough on her penultimate start when chasing home Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light in the Grade Two Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot.
She has pretensions to improve further this season, remaining unexposed over fences. Crucially, she goes very well fresh, has course winning form and has all the credentials to make a big impact and knock out plenty of Scoop6 tickets.
Selections: RAYMOND TUSK
A competitive Group Three event and it might be worth chancing Richard Hannon’s RAYMOND TUSK to make a successful reappearance.
He has been off the track for 285 days, but has gone well fresh in the past and is a former Group Two winner. He posted some sterling efforts in defeat elsewhere last year, notably when fourth in the Ebor Handicap under a big-weight and an excellent third place finish behind Crystal Ocean over C&D at a similar level back in May. In the expectation that the rain-softened ground won’t inconvenience him, a bold bid is anticipated back on a course which clearly suits.
Leg 1: 1 & 3. Leg 2: 3. Leg 3: 9. Leg 4: 1 & 3. Leg 5: 1 & 7. Leg 6: 6.
Total: £16 stake, 8 lines
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