Paul Ferguson has two racing tips for us on Friday; Standing Ovation in the 1:05 and Oscar Whisky 2:05 both at Cheltenham. Compare odds and bet.
The Pipe’s are renowned for their Open meeting exploits in handicaps and, given that the race is now run in the name of the late David Johnson, the intermediate handicap hurdle has surely been on the radar of David for some time.
The trainer saddles the completely unexposed Top Gamble who is already living up to his name, proving extremely popular in the market overnight. The five-year-old, who is yet to race on ground as quick as he will encounter today, opened up 7/1 with Hills but was a best price 7/2 by the close of play, with the value well and truly dried up.
If he is available at each-way odds this morning, he is worth considering, otherwise the race is best left, as he has the unknown ground to contend with, along with several other promising second season hurdlers. The likes of Upswing who won impressively at Carlisle last time and Warden Hill who could go well at bigger odds, are just two that can be pinpointed as dangers, along with top-weight Whisper who carries the same silks as Top Gamble.
Pipe also saddles a warm order in the opener, in the shape of Standing Ovation (1:05) and the six-year-old can complete the five-timer to provide the trainer with his third successive victory in the race.
He beat the smart Highland Lodge on his penultimate start, before following up in the Badger Ales on Saturday and, assuming he is in the same form, he ought to take plenty of beating under his 7lb penalty. The selection was trading at 13/8 with Betfred overnight.
The Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase has gone the way of some top-class performers down the years, including Dynaste, Grands Crus, Time For Rupert, Imperial Commander and Denman since 2006, and, while he is embarking on chasing later that ideal Oscar Whisky (2:05) should add his name to this illustrious list.
Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old, who carries the Dai Walters silks of Top Gamble and Whisper, was a high-class hurdler at his best around this 2m4f trip and is four from four at Cheltenham over this sort of distance.
Reported to have schooled well, he goes well fresh and, given he receives 5lbs from his main market rival Taquin Du Seuil, it will be disappointing if he doesn’t make a winning start to his career over fences. He was a 4/6 shot overnight.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14