Paul Ferguson has two selections from Cheltenham for us on Sunday; Ifandbutwhynot at 3.15 and Southfield Vic in the 3.50. Compare odds and bet.
The Open meeting hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far and things don’t look much easier on the final day, but the racing is once again extremely competitive, as you would expect.
Sire Du Grugy really ought to land the Shloer Chase for Gary and Jamie Moore, while The Liquidator could really put it up to Sea Lord in the Supreme Trial, though there has to be a slight concern about the wellbeing of the Pipe string, with several failing to live up to expectations this week.
The opening conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle looks wide-open in which I could make a case for several, including Sausalito Sunrise who should appreciate the ground and trip, Pay The King who should also appreciate better ground and looks on a fair mark, and finally Timesishard who shaped well behind Two Rockers at Towcester last term when he had Thomas Crapper back in fourth – he could outrun his odds of 33/1 for Graeme McPherson.
The feature on day three is, of course, the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle and, again, a case can be made for several of these. Regular readers of my column will know I’m a big Court Minstrel fan, but I’m still not sure the ground will be dry enough for him this afternoon, while John Quinn’s Kashmir Peak looks interesting judged on the form he showed in the first half of last season.
That said, regular readers will also know that Ifandbutwhynot (3:15) is another second-season hurdler I have a lot of faith in and he made a pleasing return to action when third to Karinga Dancer at Aintree, when he travelled up well before his effort leveled out.
A winner over course-and-distance at this meeting last year, he also scored at Musselburgh under similar conditions and the seven-year-old is reunited with Timmy Murphy today (rode him to both those successes) and he clearly suits this hold-up performer. The selection was a 10/1 shot overnight, though the sponsors will be top price about everything in the race from 9am this morning.
The concluding bumper looks a really warm event, as did the mares’ equivalent contest yesterday, and Red Sherlock was proving popular last night. David Pipe’s four-year-old carries the late David Johnson silks so would be fitting winner a meeting he was synonymous with.
Carningli is considered a Champion Bumper possible by Rebecca Curtis, Champagne At Tara made a pleasing debut for Jonjo O’Neill and the form of his Newton Abbot success was franked in the week. He is feared, but a chance is taken with Southfield Vic (3:50) who won an Exeter bumper for Bob Buckler in April.
Runner-up on debut for Paul Nicholls at Chepstow last month, the son of Old Vic lacked experience from the saddle (Megan Nicholls’ first ride in public) that day and was probably the best horse in the race. He looks capable of going well in yet another wide-open contest and, like the day’s other selection, is worth backing each-way – he was trading at 14/1 with Paddy Power and Stan James overnight.
Over in Ireland, be sure to keep tabs on Faugheen in the opener at Punchestown, as he looks to have a very bright future indeed for Willie Mullins, who, of course, saddles Hurricane Fly in the Morgiana Hurdle.
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