Race Time: 3.00pm Meeting: Cheltenham Day: Saturday 14th November
Distance: 3m 1f 67yds Full Race Name: Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) Class One
Although final running plans are yet to be confirmed, this has all the makings of a fascinating contest, with some top class chasers declared early to run over hurdles. Second guessing trainer plans is never an exact science, and we have to question whether they are looking to win some of the £30,000 in prize money, or just having a run around ahead of other targets, but it makes it all the more intriguing nonetheless.
Gevrey Chambertin (28/1) leaps off the page for the David Pipe yard, a full brother to the ultra classy Grands Crus, but with his own ideas about the game that have seen him fail to live up to his full potential so far. A better than average staying hurdler, big things were expected over fences but so far he has failed to deliver, resulting in a return to the smaller obstacles this season, though without success as yet. Many thought his first run at Auteuil was little more than an attempt to blow away any cobwebs before reverting to chasing, but he then ran at Newton Abbot, putting up a better showing when fifth of seen to Milan Bound, beaten less than three lengths at the line. He had to give lumps of weight away to everything that finished in front of him that day, so the run was not without merit, while Tom Scudamore may have given him a bit too much to do in the circumstances as he ran on when the race was over and there was nothing left to play for. Fully fit by now, we would hope that will be used to his advantage today, though we have to add he is not necessarily well handicapped and will need to be in a “going” mood to get to the front today.
Kim Bailey’s Un Ace (20/1) would be another interesting contender here, and is the better handicapped of the two even if he may need the race after six months off the track. A 33/1 shot as we write for the Hennessy Gold Cup (over fences), he has been chasing for his last seven races and there is the risk this is little more than a run around, yet with his undoubted stamina and chasing rating of 149 there is a case to make that he is well handicapped here off of 144 and could be well in if race fit?
Of the perhaps lesser known horses, Ongensgtown Lad (22/1) is an interesting one stepping up in class after wins at Listowel and Ffos Las for Irish trainer Mrs Gillian Callaghan. Now a veteran at the age of eleven, he has got a course and distance win against his name, all be in back in 2011 when rated 133, and although it is asking a lot for him to repeat that four years later, he is possibly well in today off a mark of 130, and stranger things have happened in this sport as we all know.
Interestingly, considering the entry of Gevrey Chambertin, David Pipe’s stable jockey (Tom Scudamore) is on board Batavir (6/1), so is that a hint toward his chances we wonder? Previously trained in France like so many these days, he has never won over a marathon trip such as this before but was at his best once stepped up to two and three quarter miles as witnessed with wins at Ascot and Wincanton, though when he tried three miles plus at Doncaster he was last of six after trying to make all the running. Hopefully, if they try to cover him up this afternoon he may have a better chance of getting the trip but lets face it, he will need to be a decent enough price to encourage punters to take that risk at this level of competition.
One last outsider to cap things off and we are pretty taken with the chances and the price of Desilvano (22/1) who is only a six year old and thus has plenty of room to improve further. Trained in Worcestershire by James Evans and to be ridden by Liam Treadwell (as he has for all three victories), he is stepping out of novice company to mix it with the big boys, and as he stay for ever it will be interesting to see where they target hm for the rest of the season. We do admittedly have to take his fitness on trust, but he seems to go well fresh which is a positive and is pretty accurately handicapped off a mark of 132 but may be able to improve past that this season, and at the price looks rock solid each way value.