Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Sandown, Chepstow and Wolverhampton. View selections below
Not long till the greatest show on turf and the ground for the first day of the Cheltenham Festival is likely to be slow with the frost covers being deployed over the weekend as temperatures are due to dip below freezing at night for the early part of the week. No rain is forecast after the weekend and the ground should be good or thereabouts at least for the latter part of the week.
I am at Chepstow on Saturday, BetVictor are sponsoring the card, to chair a Festival preview before racing featuring Welsh trainers Rebecca Curtis, Evan Williams and Tim Vaughan as well as Mark Winstanley aka the Couch. We will refund ALL losses on the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle up to £50 as a free bet; thus if you fancy the short-priced favourite My Tent Or Yours you will get your money back if it fails to win.
At Chepstow the Hobbs’ horses were going through a quiet spell when Nutin Fancy (1.55) disappointed last time and he can confirm the promise he showed over today’s C&D earlier when he lost out in a tactical battle.
I am slightly concerned with the form of the Donald McCain yard and I will be keeping a close eye on Sydney Paget (2.30) who ran a cracker at Carlisle last time against a subsequent winner jumping well and keeping on in tenacious fashion. Supporters of Overturn, Our Mick etc will want to see the yard come into Cheltenham week at the top of their game.
Despite an ordinary draw Guest Of Honour (2.55) can reverse recent Kempton form with Loyalty in Wolverhampton’s Lincoln Trial evidence that the flat turf season will soon be upon us. Trained by Newmarket handler Marco Botti the selection has been raised 6lbs for his narrow defeat last time but with only five career starts he is open to further improvement against largely more exposed sorts.
There is an ultra-competitive novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown which I hope can go to Edmund Kean (2.05); it is a big week for the David Pipe stable with Dynaste among a host of horses going into the Festival with leading chances. Edmund Kean is also in the Martin Pipe conditional handicap hurdle on Thursday but this is a big prize which I think he must go close to winning having landed his last two in the style of a progressive horse.
I felt Rigadin De Beauchene (2.40) ran a cracker at Haydock last time and a 2lb rise looks fair in the circumstances; he carries plenty of weight but goes well for his young conditional and is taken to get back to winning ways.
The Imperial Cup looks a tricky puzzle to solve but I was taken with Pine Creek (3.50) at Doncaster last time and he could still be anything for John Ferguson. His previous Leicester win suggests he can handle soft conditions perfectly well, ground currently good to soft but rain forecast, and he is a fascinating contender in this valuable and prestigious event.