There is some quality action to sink our teeth into on Sunday, with Cheltenham again taking centre stage with Politologue for me the star attraction in the Shloer Chase. Al Dancer and Getaway Trump renew rivalry in the Arkle and there is a competitive Greatwood to enjoy. The ITV racing team also bring us the Southern National form Fontwell where Shanroe Santos can land back to back renewals.
Cross Country Chase
The class act in here is Yanworth who represents the “King of the Banks” Enda Bolger. He was a dual Grade 1 winning hurdler for Alan King but ran disappointingly on his for start for Bolger. The reports have been mixed regarding his schooling and I think he’ll improve for the experience.
French-raider Urgent De Gregaine is a regular in these races and has shown a real aptitude for the discipline. He’s far from bulletproof but showed once again run a solid race.
The one I like in here is Fact Of The Matter who ran well in Belgium when last seen after being left at the start. He was a close second in this race last season and followed it up by winning over the course in December. this race has been in the plan for a while and I think he’ll take beating.
Of the others, course winner Kingswell Theatre and Tea For Two are of interest.
Selection: Fact Of The Matter
Arkle Trophy Trial
Just the four go to post here and although Henry De Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On has won four of her last five starts I think she lacks the class to win this contest.
Getaway Trump mixed it in some very good company last season including when finishing runner-up to Champ in the Challow. He was over five lengths behind Al Dancer on chasing debut but should improve from that run.
Last seasons Betfair hurdle winner Al Dancer jumped well on chasing debut at Cheltenham last month when beating Getaway Trump. There shouldn’t be much between the pair again here.
Rouge Vif completes the line-up for the Harry Whittington yard. He was placed in Grade 1 company last season and impressed on chasing debut at Market Rasen but he’ll face a much bigger task now.
Selection: Al Dancer
Another four runner race here with a select but quality field. Defi Du Seuil was one of last season’s leading novice chasers winning the Scilly Isles and JLT beating leading Gold Cup fancy Lostintranslation in the process. He tends to need his seasonal debut and could leave the door open for others.
Politologue has won on three of his four seasonal debuts and with the benefit of a recent wind-op last season’s Champion Chase runner-up can add to his ten career victories.
Simply Ned bids for a first victory in the race having a record of “24242” in the Scholer. Although he’ll surely run well again this looks like a hot race and he’s probably not improving at the age of 12.
Last but not least is Saint Calvados who runs here for the Brooks family. He’s won on all four season debut which alone would bring him into the reckoning but he’s also run some fine races in graded company behind the likes of Min and Altior. Still, I find it hard to see him beating the to two in the market.
This competitive handicap has gone the way of five-year-olds for the last three years and it’s another five-year-old Monsieur Lecoq who looks likely to start as favourite. He was second in the Imperial Cup last season off ten-pounds lower and stayed on well to win the Welsh Champion Hurdle on seasonal debut.
Old Guard won this as a four-year-old back in 2015 and Paul Nicholls’ bids to repeat history here with the classy Quel Destin. The Grade 1 winning hurdler has to carry plenty of weight but comes here race fit and could have further room for improvement off his current mark.
Quoi De Neuf could be the well-handicapped horse in here having shown good form in Grade 2 company last season. Evan Williams’ five-year-old needed his comeback run last month and given that this is just his fifth start under rules, there could be more to come from him.
Young jockey Ben Jones has been hitting the headlines of late with some “Saturday” winners and rides Gumball for his boss Philip Hobbs here. The pair teamed up to win the Sodexo Hurdle two weeks ago at Ascot and off eight-pounds higher he should be competitive.
Selection: Quoi De Neuf – E/W
Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle
Ecco was only having his second start over timber when he finished fourth in the Triumph Hurdle last season. Since then Paul Nicholl’s four-year-old has snugly landed a brace of hurdles and should give Pacify plenty to think about.
The Duchess of Cornwall owned Pacify has won all five starts over hurdles this far for Jamie Snowden. The 101 rated flat performer looks like a very smart sort and I think he can land the five-timer here.
The field is made by Eden Du Houx, Hang In There and Scardura who all need to improve to feature.
There is a very open-look to this staying handicap where Nicky Martin’s top-weight The Two Amigos and course winner Captain Cottistock will have plenty of supporters.
However, I’ll side with Shanroe Santos who won this twelve months ago off just one-pound lower. He’s been a great servant to connections and bearing in mind his recent win-op, I think he can land back to back renewals.
Others to note include, The Caller and One Of Us.
Selection: Shanroe Santos