Cheltenham races: tips, racecards and preview for Saturday’s BetVictor Gold Cup card at the November Meeting

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DAY 1 went to the weather but we’re all set for Saturday and a serious eight race card.

The BetVictor Gold Cup is the headline act, but there’s something for everyone with hot novice heats and a sexy looking bumper.

Race 1 – 12.05 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

It’s always a shame when your best bet of the day comes in the first, but there THYME HILL is just that and looks a league above his rivals here.

The Champion Bumper third – form that has played out superbly – kicked off over hurdles with an impressive win in the Persian War at Chepstow.

He is likely to come forwards for that and while it wasn’t the strongest renewal of the Grade 2, some horses are slowly starting to give it a boost or two and he won cosier than the margin suggested.

The bottomless ground is a slight question mark. He’s not the biggest or strongest of horses but should stay up the hill well enough judged on efforts in the book.

Philip Hobbs could be back in the big time with this horse and he should win this well and look every bit a serious prospect heading forwards.

Champagne Well is a horse I’ve followed for a while and came good last time out. However he’ll be better over further in my book and could be done by a sharper horse here.

He won’t get such an easy time of things here like he did last time out.

L’Air Du Vent was behind Champagne Well last time out but will likely come plenty forward for that and remains completely unexposed. He could be the danger.

The Irish always have to be feared at these early season Cheltenham meetings.

Henry De Bromhead’s Dancing On My Own hosed up on heavy ground at Wexford last time out and is clearly a real mudlark. He won’t be here for a day out.

Some Day Soon caught the eye in the Persian War and went in many a tracker. However he looked one for down the line in slightly lesser company. The ground is also a worry.

Olly Murphy’s I K Brunel will be popular with punters and there’s no doubt he’s above average. He will need to step up again on his Fontwell win though.

Happygolucky was added to the field after the race re-opened and Kim Bailey must know he’ll relish conditions. He’s hard to trust with your money though off the back of a novice win.

SATURDAY NAP: Thyme Hill

DANGER: L’Air Du Vent

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Race 2 – 12.40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)

Another Grade 2 early on, this time for the juveniles and as usual for this time of year it doesn’t look the strongest heat.

A few of these have a good number of runs under their belt, but with very little form to get too excited about. For a Grade 2 it shouldn’t take much winning.

Allmankind hosed up on his debut for Dan Skelton at Warwick but that race was as weak as they get and he looks opposable, especially at a short price.

Botox Has will also be short. Gary Moore’s horse bolted up at Fontwell on his first British start, beating Prefontaine by 18 lengths who reopposes here.

The form he brings from France has taken some knocks and the race Prefontaine won at Kempton was a bit of a farce as he got an easy lead all the way around on the front. We can take that pair on too.

It’s easy to be drawn to MICK PASTOR who looks a serious prospect on paper for Paul Nicholls in the famous JP McManus silks.

He was snapped up for big money after his win in France – with the second since trumping that in a big way – and as mentioned, this race won’t take much winning.

He has won on heavy and the Nicholls team have done nothing but big this horse up.

It’s not a race to go wild in, but if there is a bit of market support for him and he takes the prelims in his stride he looks a likely type.

Of the more exposed runners Nordano could be a tad over-priced for any each-way backers.

SELECTION: Mick Pastor

EACH-WAY SHOUT: Nordano

Race 3 – 1.15 mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase

As you’d expect for this meeting a competitive field have come together for this novice and the race looks to revolve around what you make of Wholestone’s chances.

For me he’s easier to take on than back, especially in these relentless conditions.

He goes best left-handed, and at Cheltenham, but still has to carry a penalty for his Perth win that was a match and where he failed to convince.

MINELLA WARRIOR was beat fair and square by Wholestone and Mulcahy’s Hill last time out but showed enough in defeat there not to be disregarded.

He shaped and jumped well and looked like he’d kick forward for that effort. Conditions will suit and he’d be a cracking each-way bet but for the seven runners.

Aaron Lad makes his chasing bow and is hard to fancy while Aye Aye Charlie has continued to regress.

Poker Play has a big sniff for the resurgent David Pipe. He’s lightly-raced and won well at Ffos Las on chasing debut.

The second has since bolted up but whether he’s quite good enough to give weight away to a few of these is debatable.

Redzor would have been an option but for conditions.

It’s a trappy little heat and small stakes are advised, but Minella Warrior looks the value.

TENTATIVE NOD: Minella Warrior

Race 4 – 1.50 BetVictor Smartcards Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

This will take some getting. Close to three-and-a-half miles in a bog up the hill.

Stamina will be key and RAMSES DE TEILLEE has that in abundance.

He stays longer than the mother-in-law and remains on the up despite his exploits in the Grand National.

He was only beat by the likes of Elegant Escape and Robinsfirth – on ground that would not suit one bit – and this is quite calm waters for a horse with his ability.

The clear danger is Colin Tizzard’s West Approach but he is quirky enough and we can take him on.

Big River is talented and will win a big pot sooner rather than later. He goes well fresh and should stay no worries.

Relentless Dreamer ran well at Chepstow but could not back that up at Ascot and the Rebecca Curtis stable have taken a turn of late.

Potters Legend is on a tempting mark and has had a spin over hurdles while Pop Rockstar is more unxposed than most in this.

It’s no walk in the park for Ramses De Teillee but he should be good enough to see these off in perfect conditions, despite top weight.

SELECTION: Ramses De Teillee

DANGER: Big River

Cheltenham Saturday Fancies

NAP – 12.05 Thyme Hill (Bet here)

EW Stab – 3.30 Jacamar (Bet here)

Race 5 – 2.25 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The feature is up next and my cards are already on the table here.

COUNT MERIBEL was the main antepost pick back earlier in the week and that remains the case. His price has shortened a tad, not a bad thing, but this looks tailor made for him at this point in his career.

He is on a workable mark and Nigel Twiston-Davies will have had his eye on this a good way out and he had a lovely prep at Carlisle behind Lostintranslation.

The other one on the shortlist was Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva who has threatened to win a big pot for a while and will be suited by Saturday’s test.

She also had a good warmup for this and travelled well in this last year before she was brought down on the turn for home.

The fancied Us And Them, Slate House and Siruh Du Lac all have obvious chances.

However Us And Them can be a bit dodgy over his fences and Slate House needs to prove he can back up his latest win. At the prices they can be left alone.

Spiritofthegames is another that could be well-handicapped but he’ll need to be A1 on his first start of the year.

SELECTIONS: Count Meribel & Happy Diva

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Race 6 – 3.00 Spinal Injuries Association Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race)

For a race named after Big Buck’s it is a disappointing field that have assembled.

It’s hard to look past Tobefair who simply loves it at Cheltenham. But this is a wide ranging handicap and she has to give away almost two stone to some horses.

Eva’s Oskar is one of those running off featherwight and she has only improved of late. She goes for her fourth win on the spin here with the ground the only real worry.

Olly Murphy’s pair of Smackwater Jack and The Butcher Said hold obvious claims.

Another on the shortlist is Dan Skelton’s Hear No Evil. She has a cracking each-way chance but this is not a race that makes much appeal whatsoever from a punting perspective.

TENTATIVE NOD: Hear No Evil

Race 7 – 3.30 BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle

This is a wide open but strong handicap for the grade, but a horse on the radar for a long while returns here and finally steps up in trip.

However, JACAMAR has also been declared for an easier race on Sunday which is a curveball.

But if he runs here – leave it until the day – he should run a massive race at decent odds.

I thought he may have been a bit flattered running past beaten horses at Chepstow two runs back behind Torpillo, but he backed that up at Ascot with a similar run.

The handicapper has been kind enough to drop him 2lbs and it must be job done getting him in this race fit and off 123.

Jatiluwih has big claims and all his novice form has worked out brilliantly. 137 is no gimme but he’s in the right hands and has run on very soft ground in France to a decent level.

Remastered looks a big price. The bookies seem to have taken him on his Chepstow effort over his second to Dashel Drasher.

He has a big chance for the in form David Pipe stable who could have a decent weekend at Prestbury Park.

EACH-WAY STAB: Jacamar

Race 8 – 4.00 Karndean Designflooring Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed Race)

The bumper is far from an enticing betting proposition and as per usual it will pay to keep an eye on the market before the off as well as a good look in the parade ring.

Legends Ryde looked a decent prospect when she won at Carlisle and on the face of it that looks better form than of Midnight Callisto.

Henry Daly knows how to win a bumper and the booking of Richard Johnson on It’s Probably Me signals some intent.

Cill Anna looked like she needed the run at Aintree but looks a longer term prospect for Paul Nicholls.

In all honesty it will be dark by the time this is off and your better off tucked away in a bar with your Guinness.

TENTATIVE NOD: Legends Ryde

Cheltenham Saturday Fancies

NAP – 12.05 Thyme Hill (Bet here)

EW Stab – 3.30 Jacamar (Bet here)



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