HORSE RACING: Top Pundit Paul Ferguson, author of “Jumpers To Follow” previews all the top racing ahead of day three at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday 18 March 2010 at Prestbury Park.
Clan Tara would warrant consideration for the opening contest on Thursday if re-routed to the Jewson from the National Hunt Chase (Wednesday), but in his likely absence the one I am keen on is fellow Irish raider China Rock.
Though his form figures wouldn’t inspire great confidence, this horse has been crying out for better ground and looks potentially well-handicapped over fences when you recall he finished fourth behind Mikael D’Haguenet, Karabak and Diamond Harry in last year’s Ballymore.
Off the mark at the second time of asking over fences, at Galway in October, he has since been plying his trade in graded company finishing behind the likes of Sizing Europe, Pandorama (both those races over wrong trips) and Roberto Goldback. The distance and going should be right up his street and, off a mark of 141, he looks to hold solid claims.
Unoriginal it may be, but Big Buck’s looks impossible to oppose in the big race of the day, the World Hurdle. Paul Nicholls’ top-class stayer has done nothing wrong since winning the race twelve months ago and, in fact, looked better than ever at Newbury in November, where he travelled more kindly than unusual.
Back at Newbury the following month, for the rearranged Long Walk, he hit his customary flat spot before turning for home, but readily out-pointed Karabak and Diamond Harry up the straight to maintain his unbeaten record over the smaller obstacles in Britain.
The World Hurdle will hopefully be the second staying hurdle that Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls are bidding to win on the card, as Alfie Sherrin is fancied to defy a 12lb rise in the weights in the Pertemps Final.
After failing to deliver what was clearly expected of him on his seasonal bow at Chepstow in October (sent off 11/8 to land the valuable Silver Trophy), he bounced right back to form at Newbury last month. Upped in trip, he travelled powerfully and had the race sewn up some way from home. In fact he probably carried himself to the front too soon and he idled in the closing stages and is worth more than the official margin would suggest.
A cracking chasing prospect for next season, he has been continually well supported for this contest in the past few days and could end up being pretty short come the day.
| “Jumpers To Follow – £9.95|
Paul Ferguson’s “Jumpers To Follow” 2009-2010 can be bought from “High Stakes Books“.
Just £9.95 – Click here to order your copy
This year’s Foreword is written by Charlie McCann, head of PR at Stan James, who describes the author as a “most articulate, informative and knowledgeable racing professional.”
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