Cheltenham Clues – 29th October 2018

Modus beats Duke Of Navan at Cheltenham

It was the return of action at the home of jump racing this weekend with Cheltenham hosting their season opening Showcase Meeting. Future Grade 1 winners Sceau Royal, Fox Norton and Black Corton have won at the meeting in recent seasons so it’s not unusual for stars to emerge at the fixture. We had a number of good performances and close finishes at Prestbury Park on Friday and Saturday, giving us some ideas as to who might be returning to the track for the festival in March. If you’re after today’s Horse Racing tips, they are all on site!

Dear Sire

The two mile novice chase on Friday was eventful to say the least, Dear Sire crashed out at the second last fence and One For Billy ran through the tape when mounting a serious challenge. Diakali won the race, but I think the one to take out of it is Donald McCain’s Dear Sire. He jumped slightly right at times but on the whole he was pretty quick over his obstacles. Coming to the penultimate flight Brian Hughes was oozing confidence and travelling much the best. He didn’t even jump the second last badly, just seeming to skid on landing which caused him to come down. Surely he would have played a big role in the finish and being just a six year old, is still open to improvement. The Arkle could be a possibility, but would obviously need to improve, failing that the Grand Annual could definitely be an option for him.

Lil Rockerfeller

This horse seems like he’s been around for ages, but he’s only a seven year old and really is an admirable sort. A dual Grade 2 winner and rated as high as 164 over hurdles, he has bundles of ability. Whether he’ll be able to transfer that to fences is slightly under question at present, despite making it two from two over the larger obstacles on Friday. His jumping left a lot to be desired at times and even though Wayne Hutchinson gave him plenty of sight he was still very messy on occasion. Class got him through but I’d wonder in a stronger race if his jumping would be put under too much scrutiny and simply cost him too much ground. He was second in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017 and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him in that race again in March, rather than the RSA or JLT Chase.

Thomas Darby

Olly Murphy has established a name for himself pretty quickly amongst the training ranks and he may have found himself a good one in the shape of Thomas Darby. Making his debut over hurdles on Friday following a bumper win in May, he went into many a notebook. Only third at the final hurdle, he surged up the hill to claim victory under Richard Johnson despite being very green in the process and running around up the run in. The time of the race was smart being 1.10 seconds quicker than the Racing Post standard. There’s a long way to go, but on that display he could certainly shape up into a Ballymore type, or he may have the speed for a Supreme.


There has been some question marks surrounding Modus’ jumping of a fence when put under pressure, but he proved a number of doubters wrong at Cheltenham on Saturday. He may not have been the most fluent jumper in the race, but he kept the mistakes down and battled very bravely after the last to get his head in front. Past hurdles form in decent handicaps such as his Lanzarote Hurdle win show those sorts of contests suit him well and he seems versatile from two to two and a half miles. It’s likely the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate would suit him ideally, although the Grand Annual would be an option too.


Having won his last five and looking mightily impressive in the process, Dinons is a horse that could be taking high rank amongst the novice hurdlers this season. His jumping on Saturday left a bit to be desired at times, but his engine is there for all to see. An effortless 14 length victory and each of his hurdles runs have produced a better Racing Post Rating than the last. So clearly progressive and the fact he seems to stay so well having already won twice over three miles, it looks like we could be seeing him in the Albert Bartlett come March.

This Weeks Racing

An exciting week ahead as we’ll have Wetherby tips from their two day Charlie Hall meeting where Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai could face off in the feature. The Sodexo Gold Cup is the highlight for our Ascot tips and we have Grade 1 action at Down Royal with the Champion Chase on Saturday, with Samcro making his return at the same venue a day earlier. We’ll have Down Royal tips for both days and also Carlisle tips on Sunday where some exciting novice chasers will be taking to the track in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase.

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