Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Thursday; Champagne West 13:20 and Vaniteux 15:05 both at Cheltenham. Compare odds and bet.
A winner for this column twice already this season, the Philip Hobbs-trained Champagne West (1:20) is fancied to complete the hat-trick over fences in Cheltenham’s Dipper Novices’ Chase on New Year’s Day.
The seven-year-old should have little trouble in coping with today’s quicker surface and he has already proven himself around the track, having won both chase starts here. His jumping was much more assured on debut, though Richard Johnson believed the ground to be the problem last time, as well as being left in front sooner than ideal.
The son of Westerner ought to be able to pick his feet up better on today’s ground and, though Ptit Zig is greatly respected as he goes in search of the four-timer, he is taken on with Champagne West who looked reasonably priced (3-1) on Wednesday evening.
Later on the card Vaniteux (3:05) can get off the mark for the season in the 2m4f hurdle, having finished runner-up in both the Greatwood and International here.
Nicky Henderson’s improving six-year-old steps up in trip, but that shouldn’t be an issue and he will appreciate the drying conditions. A winner over 2m3½f on similar ground at Doncaster last season, the Voix Du Nord gelding is the chosen mount of Barry Geraghty (over the returning Beat That) and he is taken to out-speed his rivals at the business end of the contest.
The selection gets a handy 8lbs from his three main rivals this afternoon and was available at 15-8 overnight.
1:20 Cheltenham Champagne West 3/1 Stan James
3:05 Cheltenham Vaniteux 2/1 BetVictor
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