Baron Alco

Cheltenham

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup

Frodon carries top weight here and seems to have improved since a win-op, to win the Old Roan Chase and then finished runner-up to Baron Alco at Cheltenham. He’s a very classy individual but it’ll tough under a welter burden of 11-12.

Baron Alco is one of the most consistent horses in training, he was second in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles as a novice but then suffered a setback. Gary Moore’s gelding return from over a year off the track to finish runner-up behind Charbel and the put in an impressive performance to win the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham. There could still be more to come from him and he’ll take all the beating. 

Rather Be was a Garde 3 winner of hurdles and has looked a very promising recruit to the chasing ranks. He was sent off well fancied for the BetVictor Gold Cup and was still travelling strongly when brought down four out. If he is none the worse after his fall hen he must hold leading claims.

The Nicky Henderson trained Casablanca Mix has looked very exciting since making the move from France, but that being said she has been beaten on her last two starts, which included a race against her own sex most recently. She may come up short against some classier rivals here.

Selection: Rather Be

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

This Garde 2 Hurdle is a breeding ground for quality young horses and this year is no different. French-import Doux Pretender took his time to find the winning groove over hurdles but has looked smart in his last two wins. It’s a slight worry that he hung late on at Ascot most recently and he may be vulnerable upped in grade.

Rockpoint has had nine attempts to win over hurdles but with no success as of yet. Some of those runs came against decent opposition and although he’s no world beater he does have handicap experience which will stand to him and he might sneak a place.

Danny Whizzbang represents the Paul Nicholls’ stable and although he’s only won an Irish point-to-point and a Hereford maiden hurdle, he looks an exciting prospect. Another horse to take this route point-to-point/Hereford route was Finnians Oscar and we all know how classy he was.

Selection: Danny Whizzbang

International Hurdle

This is the feature race at Cheltenham and the line-up is classy but slightly disappointing with Laurina not making the trip over. Still, there are some quality animals in the field.

We Have A Dream seems to be suffering from second-season juvenile hurdling syndrome. It’s very hard for juvenile hurdlers to do well in their second season. Nicky Henderson’s gelding hasn’t been disgraced in a brace of Grade Two’s this season but I think he’ll struggle to get his head in front here.

Summerville Boy was a dual Grade 1 winner last season when taking the Tolworth and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Tom George’s gelding began the season with a disappointing run in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle behind the reigning Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air. I’d be hoping for a better run here but a watching brief is best advised.

The New One has been one of Nigel Twiston-Davies stalwarts and a real fan favourite. This twenty-time winner ran poorly on seasonal debut in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and Twiston-Davies has said during the week if The New One doesn’t show more spark in this then he will be retired.

Brain Power would have a chance of winning this if he reproduces the form he showed two seasons ago. He has had his attention turned to chasing in recent season and he is an intriguing contender here.

Selection: Brain Power

Doncaster

December Novices’ Chase

There is a disappointing turnout for this Grade Two contest with only four runners going to post and the notable omission of Lil Rockefeller from the declarations.

Rocky’s Treasure heads the market following three wins and a very credible runner-up finish behind Santini in a Grade 2 event at Newbury. This is the strongest piece of form on offer and a reproduction of that should suffice.

Coup De Pinceau carries top weight following back to back victories on his first two starts over the larger obstacles. Paul Nicholl’s inmate hasn’t been asked any serius questions in either of those forays and must enter calculations.

Theclockisticking won at the prohibitive odds of 1/12 at Fakenham on chasing debut and Stuart Edmunds gelding could be an exciting recruit to the chasing ranks. He was placed at listed level over hurdles and is one to keep a close eye on.

The Ian Williams’ trained King Of Realms has been lightly raced and has only run over fences on one occasion when snugly beating Spider Bite at Ascot. The Williams team have been in great order all season and given this geldings breeding he looks ready-made to excel in this discipline.

Selection: Theclockisticking

Summit Juvenile Hurdle

Five horses go to post in this Grade 2 contest and Cracker Factory and Quel Destin bring some solid form to the table. Alan King excels with his juvenile hurdlers and his Cracker Factory has already won four times over the sticks, with the pick of his form coming with a seven-length victory in a listed contest at Wetherby.

Quel Destin proved over a length too good for Alan King’s charge when the pair met in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in November. They raced on level weights that day and given that it was only Paul Nicholls’ inmates third run over hurdles, it’s hard to see the placings being reversed.

Alan King is also represented by Elysees, who has won two of his three starts over timbers but has something to find with the more fancied pair.

The field is made up by the hurdling debutant Capone and the twice runner-up Oi The Clubb Oi’s.

Selection: Quel Destin

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