Dan Skelton, having been understudy to Paul Nicholls for so many years, is no stranger to getting a horse ready for a big day. However, even he must have been mighty chuffed with his worth to have landed the Greatwood hurdle with West Cork, who defied a 650+ day break to win with a little in hand.
Members were of course on and cheered the 11/1 winner on along with the Skelton team and connections as he tanked his way through the race, avoiding trouble, under a very confident Harry Skelton. Approaching the 2nd last it looked almost certain that members were about to land another 100/1 plus forecast with No Ordinary Jo going head to head with West Cork. However that horses early excertions took their toll late on and we had to settle for an 11/1 1st and 8/1 2nd.
It was a good weekend for members at Cheltenham who left Saturday in front too courtesy of a 22/1 place and 7/1 winner from just two tipped races at the meeting. That followed Art Approval winning under another superb ride on the Friday at 6/1.
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The November meeting is always an early insight to the festival in March and it is around now that people start building their ante post multiples. I wouldn’t be recommending any bets just yet, but below are a few horses to keep in the notebooks for the Festival come March. Simply click on the horse to load it into your ATR Tracker
GALAHAD QUEST … Placed for us in the Paddy Power Gold cup and in a steadily run race in which the winner, and possible would be winner until falling, raced 1st and 2nd throughout. However Galahad, who was having his first experience of a big field chase was the only horse to make up significant ground from the rear. He jumps brilliantly and looks a staying chaser with a big future. He would be a lively candidate for the Ultima in March. A race connections won just a few years ago with a very similar horse.
OSCAR ELITE … Its hard to say whether he’d have won but for his fall, he’d have almost certainly given the winner plenty to think about. Until then he jumped like a stag and travelled over everything. Given he was a top class hurdler he looks sure to be suited by the RSA (Now Festival Chase). A staying chaser with a huge future provided he’s none the worse for his spill.
THE BIG DOYEN … Over in Ireland this horse booked his slot for the Champion Bumper in some style. An impressive winner on debut he was sent off an 11/4 shot in this event but belied his odds and beat the red hot odds on fav in some style. It was hard to not be visually impressed with his turn of foot and it only took a mere shake of the reigns for this horse to put the race to bed in less than 10 strides. Powering away to win by 15 lengths he looks to be the most promising youngster to have come out of Ireland so far this season. Still a long way to go but the owners will be batting aware big money bids from the racing elite from now until March.
PUT THE KETTLE ON … Poor on the weekend in all truth but she looks in need of a step up in trip and one wouldn’t be shocked to see her turn up in the Ryanair come March. She was miles back turning for home, in honesty I thought she had pulled up. But as I sat there in the stands it was eye-catching the way she motored up the hill, finishing quicker than any. Soft ground suits her best, so possibly that didn’t help, but she loves Cheltenham and could be a lively outsider for the Ryanair.