The snow has cleared and there’s two cracking days of jumps action coming up at Cheltenham.
I was lucky enough to be down at the track for their recent November meeting and I fancy two runners to back up their recent success returned to Prestbury Park.
First up is David Pipe’s course specialist What A Moment, an intended runner in the Unicoin Group Handicap Chase (2.30).
The seven-year-old has two wins from three runs at the track, landing the past two runnings of the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at the November fixture under Richard Harding, who was also on board in March for the four miler where he tanked through the race like the best horse but was pulled up sharply before two out as his stamina gave out.
The manner of his victory here last month was more impressive than a half length winning distance would suggest, leading on the bridle three out and just idling up the run-in, but always holding some fast finishing rivals.
A 6lb rise to 138 looks perfectly fair and he’s rates a bet at the 9/2 available.
There was no fluke about Kingswell Theatre’s win here last month over the Cross Country fences and Michael Scudamore’s charge is taken to defy a 6lb rise in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3.05).
This mammoth 3m 6f contest has been a happy hunting ground for Enda Bolger in recent seasons but out of his likely runners, I wouldn’t much fancy either Josies Orders (2/1 fav here) or Cantlow, the former beaten on his banks return last month while the latter looks well held by Kingswell Theatre, who jumped them ragged that day from the front.
The British challenge is often underestimated in these contests and Tom Scudamore can record back-to-back victories on this progressive eight-year-old, who is available at 5/1.
In the Citipost Handicap Hurdle (3.40), Peter Bowen’s likeable mare Rons Dream can take advantage of a competitive mark of 139.
The seven-year-old has run against some top class company in recent times, including when eighth here behind Apple’s Jade at the Festival, and also took her chance at Aintree.
The key to this horse is winter ground – it basically can’t be soft enough – and with conditions set to suit on Friday, plus the trainer’s son James Bowen taking off 5lb, all is set for a big run and looks overpriced at 16/1.
Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (1.55) looks a typically competitive renewal and Romain De Senam is the one I want to be on at 14/1.
Paul Nicholls’ talented five-year-old looked a very well handicapped animal when easily landing a class two event on his return at Chepstow, bounding clear of a decent rivals.
A workmanlike win followed six days later at Stratford before the French-bred gelding travelled supremely well in last month’s Bet Victor Gold Cup but, like many others in the race, found conditions too testing once they began turning for home.
Conditions on the new course are likely to be more up Romain De Senam’s street and will Nicholls stating earlier this week his intention to run, he looks overpriced.
Saturday’s feature is the International Hurdle (3.05) and Melon looked far too big at 7/2 earlier in the week given Willie Mullins’ intention to run the five-year-old.
The market has since corrected itself somewhat, but I’d still make Melon favourite over The New One, who for all his success down the years is now a nine-year-old and looked workmanlike when fourth here in the Greatwood last month.
Melon was unfortunate to bump in Labaik in March’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and won nicely on his return at Down Royal in November. Mullins clearly sees him as a Champion Hurdle contender and he should be up to landing this contest.