Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann marks your card at Cheltenham’s weekend selection and Sunday’s Punchestown.
The 20-runner Paddy Power Gold Cup is today’s highlight on a wonderful card from Cheltenham and the hope is that dentist cum amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen can extract sufficient improvement from six-year-old Long Run. The race has been very good for favourite backers in recent years with five of the last ten renewals going to the market leader.
Long Run (2.35) is currently 3/1 with StanJames.com and many will consider this a skinny price in such a competitive race but I honestly believe Long Run is a potential star; if that is the case he must go close especially as his riders’ 5lbs claim takes his weight down to 11st 1lbs. A Grade 1 winner on his British debut over 3m at Kempton Park it is possible that he and/or his jockey are too inexperienced for such a race at this stage in his development. On the other hand if he jumps well he could be a totally different class to the opposition. I am prepared to side with the latter.
Ian Williams has his horses in excellent form and Wayward Prince (1.20) showed enough on his winning chase debut at Huntingdon to suggest he could one day go the very top over fences. A Grade 1 winner over hurdles at Aintree back in the spring I fully expect him to maintain his unbeaten record today.
Any Currency (1.55) was well backed at Towcester over hurdles on his reappearance and ran an encouraging race in third. He is a horse that stays extreme distances and if he is anywhere near the principles with two to jump he must go close. Ballyfitz remains very well treated on his best form and Giles Cross ought to win a big pot this season. They are big dangers in a cracking race.
The absence of Hurricane Fly through a slight setback gives Solwhit (2.15 Sunday) every chance of following up last years victory in Sunday’s Grade 1 Hurdle at Punchestown. I was surprised to see the mare Voler La Vedette, despite the ease of her win on her reappearance, priced up as favourite earlier in the week and those who have snaffled the 2/1 about Solwhit should be on good terms with themselves tomorrow afternoon.
Noble Prince (1.40 Punchestown ) should follow up his recent C&D victory in the Grade 2 Novice Chase for Paul Nolan who has always held the horse in the highest regard.
Sunday’s Greatwood Hurdle looks a hot heat with last seasons’ Supreme Novices’ 1-2 Menorah & Get Me Out Of Here at the top of the weights. Marginal preference is for Alan King’s Manyriverstocross (2.20) who ran a cracker behind Peddlers Cross at the Festival considering he was badly baulked at the second flight. It is possible that he will be seen at his best over further this season but he looks well-handicapped and is the recommendation in a cracking race.
From a punting perspective I am more interested in Sybarite (3.30 Sunday) later in the card having his hurdle debut for Nigel Twiston-Davies. It wasn’t Paddy Brennan’s finest hour when he was beaten in a bumper at Cheltenham at the last meeting but it is significant that he makes his hurdling debut in Grade 2 class tomorrow.
Tataniano is a horse to follow this year but can he give 5lbs to Forpadydeplasterer (1.45) first time out. Significant rain would be a negative for the former and the Irish raider despite having finished runner up in his last six starts can go one better…eventually!