Paul Ferguson has two selections from Cheltenham for us on Friday; Oscar Whisky in the 12:35 and Garde La Victoire at 3.45. Compare odds and bet.
It’s a case of saving the best until last at Cheltenham on Friday, where the concluding novices’ hurdle looks an absolute cracker.
David Pipe’s dual bumper winner Doctor Harper has looked good in beating inferior opposition at Exeter recently, while Ballyalton has the strongest piece of form on offer, having lowered the colours of Oscar Rock at Newcastle last time.
That came just 13 days ago, however, and, while a drop in trip shouldn’t be an inconvenience, he is back down a full five furlongs here and this race looks pretty deep indeed.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him go well under AP McCoy, but I would have personally preferred to see him take in the Relkeel Hurdle over 2m4f tomorrow, so the unbeaten Garde La Victoire (3:45) gets the nod.
The taking son of Kapgarde lowered the colours of Regal Encore at Aintree in October, but improving on that effort to run right away from the useful Gone Too Far at Warwick last month, looking a serious prospect in the process.
The four-year-old needs to brush up his hurdling, but he promises to improve for stepping up in class and he can mark himself down as a Supreme contender with success here. The selection was a best price 9/4 (Bet Victor) overnight, to give Philip Hobbs a third win in the race since 2003 – he won it with Grey Report that year and followed up with Chilling Place twelve months later.
Nicky Henderson’s Cocktails At Dawn also warrants a mention, as he is clearly held in some regard (given the market support for him at Newbury last year). He could easily leave that form behind and is most interesting of the remainder, all of whom receive 10lbs from the ‘big three’ in the market.
Earlier on the card Oscar Whisky (12:30) can make the most of the 8lb he receives from Wonderful Charm, who bids to make it four from four over fences for Paul Nicholls.
Nicky Henderson’s high-class hurdler would appreciate a more truly run race than he encountered when second here a fortnight ago and rank outsider Captain Ocana should go from the front.
Easy to back last night, he was 10/11 with most firms, but there probably won’t be much between the pair come post time. If Oscar Whisky is to make the grade over fences, he needs to be getting off the mark here, with the weights very much in his favour.
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