Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Cheltenham and Doncaster. View selections below
The big betting race of the day at Cheltenham is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup another fiendishly difficult 15-runner handicap. Inform Philip Hobbs has a strong hand and Village Vic creeps into the race off 10 stone having been a very easy winner of a Musselburgh Chase last time and a 7lbs rise is fair. Stable jockey Richard Johnson has chosen the eight-year-old over stablemate Champagne West (1.50) but the latter gets the narrow vote with Tom O’Brien an able deputy.
The selection has a history of going well fresh but has not seen the track since finishing falling in a Grade One at Sandown back in January. He lacks experience of big fields over fences given his course wins as a novice last season were in three and six-runner fields but if his jumping holds he must go close and at 9/1 at BetVictor is taken to reward each way support.
One of these days everything is going to click for Buywise (8/1) but he has been raised 4lbs for his defeat at the hands of Annacotty (8/1) in the Paddy Power and he always seems to clout at least one of the fences on his way round.
If there is a British challenger to Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle in March then it is likely to come from the unbeaten Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co (3.00) who I felt travelled like much the best horse when winning at the Festival and was value for much more than the neck he had in hand of stablemate Top Notch on that occasion.
It is well documented that only Katchit (2008) has won the Champion Hurdle as a 5-year-old since See You Then back in 1985 but that is for another day and this is a modest renewal of this Grade 2 contest and I would be disappointed if Peace And Co didn’t make a winning reappearance. He is Even money and that seems a fair price for someone who I believe is a realistic Champion Hurdle contender.
Bold Henry (1.15) has a history of going well fresh and first time out might be the time to catch the Hobbs runner; Barry Geraghty partnered Eastlake at Newbury last month when he looked to be going best four out but found disappointingly little. One would imagine Geraghty had the choice of Eastlake and Bold Henry but Richard Johnson knows the selection well having been in the plate for both career wins.
A cracking card at Doncaster, too, and Straidnahanna (1.30) can recoup losses having fallen at Haydock last time when looking as if he was coming to win his race. That was only three weeks ago but if over those exertions he remains potentially well handicapped.
The Grade 2 Summit Hurdle was won by Peace And Co last year but there doesn’t seem a star in the six-runner field although Fouburg (2.05) has a 4lbs pull with Who Dares Wins for the three-quarters of a length he was beaten at Ludlow last month.
Southfield Royale (2.40) jumped out to his left at Wetherby but was well on top at the end and is taken to follow up in the Grade 2 November Chase for Neil Mulholland and Brian Harding who gets a rare ride for the yard.