A frustrating close second at Doncaster for us on Friday, but we are very hopeful that will not be the case on Saturday.
Our good friend Phil sends his very promising novice Bigmartre up to the Yorkshire track. He is potentially an Arkle chase quality horse and would have been entitled to line up in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices Chase earlier in the card. However, trainer Harry Whittington has clearly identified the more valuable 2 mile handicap (1550) as both a more lucrative and more winnable contest.
BigM was a cosy winner at Newbury last time, form which is working out really well, and an 8lb rise to a mark of 145 still leaves wriggle room for a horse who is probably capable of running to the mid 150s. A prominent racer, he should suit the left handed track at Donny and he looks a cracking good bet.
Jockey Davy Russell could have the big race (1515) at his mercy with L’Ami Serge if he copes with the return to fences, but that’s not Davy’s only eyecatching ride. In the opening handicap hurdle (1255) he has been booked by up-and-coming Olly Murphy to ride Miles To Milan who makes his stable debut having been off the track for over a year.
Murphy has been making a big splash with instant improvement of other yards’ cast-offs, and has plenty of raw talent to work with in this horse who promised much for Philip Hobbs and looks a prime candidate for the Murphy magic, having Davy in the saddle can only be a plus.
Cheltenham hosts its ever-informative Trials day which is likely to see a couple of future Festival winners in action. Coo Star Sivola could have been in the novice event, but rather like BigM, it appears as if trainer Nick Williams would prefer to lift the more valuable open event (1350). This is a promising horse and a mark of 135 is 3lbs lower than when placed at the Festival last year over hurdles. This is a valuable prize but considerably less competitive, and the lower mark can be a springboard for success.
It is tempting to suggest Singlefarmpayment can spring a surprise in the big race, but we have been stung there at least twice too often.
The Cleeve hurdle (1535) sees Finian’s Oscar’s return to hurdles looking like an afterthought. With doubts about track and ground for blog-favourite and sentimental choice Beer Goggles, the Twiston-Davies trained Wholestone looks a solid favourite even under his 6lb penalty.
We generally don’t like to support 5yos at these extreme trips, but the odds look long enough on Ex Patriot, who was 4th in the Triumph Hurdle here at the Festival, and found winning ways stepped up to 2m4f two runs ago. There was no disgrace in failing to handle the potentially top class Killultagh Vic last time, and this further step up in trip could be a good move.
Miles to Milan, (1255 Doncaster), 2pts win, 11/2 Coral
Coo Star Sivola, (1350 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 7/2 generally available
Ex Patriot, (1535 Cheltenham), 0.5pts each way, 33/1 generally available
Bigmartre, (1550 Doncaster), 2pts win, 7/2 generally available
Miles To Milan & Bigmartre, 1pt win double, approx. 28/1
Please subscribe for notification of latest tips and news, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook