It was a busy few days towards the end of last week. A number of high quality novice chasers made their debuts over the larger obstacles and the future of many looks very bright. We also had plenty of graded action both in the UK and in Ireland that have given us clues as to what we can expect for the remainder of the season. If you’re wanting selections for today’s races, check out our horse racing tips page!
At Newbury on Thursday there was a fascinating Beginners’ Chase where Warren Greatrex’s La Bague Au Roi beat the boys in a thrilling contest. Herself and Lostintranslation both jumped very well and should take high rank in the division throughout the season. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see them take different paths at the Cheltenham Festival though, with the former looking a strong stayer and the JLT perhaps suiting the latter slightly better than the three mile trip of the RSA.
Talkischeap was back in third and lost nothing in defeat. Having won all three of his Point To Point’s his future was always going to lie over fences and he looked a strong stayer at Newbury. The RSA or the National Hunt Chase could be options for him. Thomas Campbell was rated as high as 158 over hurdles but his jumping left a bit to be desired as he came home in fourth.
Last seasons Betfair Hurdle winner and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner up Kalashnikov made his chasing debut at Warwick on Friday. He certainly didn’t disappoint in what was generally a very sound jumping display. He pecked on landing once but other than that it was a very smooth eleven length success, cementing his position at the top of the Arkle market in the process.
Albert Bartlett winner Kilbricken Storm was given a fright on chasing debut at Ffos Las on Sunday when battling back bravely to beat Cobolobo by a short head. He’ll obviously need to improve on that to be competitive in the RSA, but we know how talented he is.
Harry Fry’s Bags Groove secured his second chase win from as many starts in the Grade 2 “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase on Saturday. Rated 145 over hurdles, he already looks like a better horse than that over fences and his jumping was very professional (despite clattering through the last). The JLT looks the obvious target for him and if he keeps improving, will be a definite contender.
The Elite Hurdle on the same card only backed up the theory of how difficult it is for four year olds against the older generation. We Have A Dream made the running but could only fade into third after being backed into 7/4 favourite. It was an encouraging return from If The Cap Fits who went down just over two lengths to the race fit Mare Verdana Blue. She had her ground on this occasion and if it was a bit softer next time, it would be highly plausible the form would be reversed. If The Cap Fits did nothing to harm his Champion Hurdle credentials and is entitled to improve plenty, given that was his first run in 319 days. Verdana Blue has the option of the Champion or Mares’ Hurdle, for which she’d play a big role in either if the ground came up good.
There was a surprise result at Naas on Saturday as Footpad suffered a fall at the final flight in the Poplar Square Chase. However, Saint Calvados looked to have Willie Mullins’ charge covered to comprehensively turnover the form from last seasons Arkle. We didn’t see the best of Footpad though and he’ll likely return much better next time. Nonetheless, Harry Whittington has an exciting season ahead with Saint Calvados and on that performance, he deserves a tilt at the Champion Chase. There should be plenty of improvement still to come too as the son of Saint Des Saints is only five years old.
Seven-time Grade 1 winner Apple’s Jade made a winning return to action at Navan on Sunday with a resounding success to retain her title in the Lismullen Hurdle. She made every inch of the running and always appeared in control. The Mares’ Hurdle is almost certainly her target at Cheltenham, but she has the class to compete in any of the Championship races. In behind her, it was a promising reappearance from Coney Island who lost his way towards the end of last season. His back form reads very well and if building up again to the level we know he can get to, the Ryanair Chase could be an ideal race for him.
Ballyoisin was mightily impressive in the Grade 2 Fortria Chase, winning by twenty-three lengths. Following that performance he has to be considered as a genuine Champion Chase contender. A winner of his last four starts, he’s progressing at a rate of knots and in a division that lacks challengers to Altior, is a worthy adversary.
This Week’s Racing
Cheltenham’s November Meeting provides us with an excellent weekend of quality action. The Betvictor Gold Cup and Greatwood Handicap Hurdle headline the cards on Saturday and Sunday. Nine other pattern class races feature over the three day meeting which include recognised trials for the Festival in March. You can see all our selections for the November meeting on our Cheltenham tips page.