The National Hunt season really ramps up a gear this weekend with the Open Meeting over at Cheltenham and we’ll all be on festival-watch, hoping for some clues to steer us towards some winners in March next year.
With that in mind let’s have a look at ‘5 to watch’ over the coming days, with March 2017 very much in mind!
Defi Du Seuil – 12.40pm – Saturday: Cliffs Of Dover sets the standard here having racked up a rating of 140 already, including when taking a conditionals handicap hurdle here in October. But he faces some potentially high-class 3-yr-olds – particularly Defi Du Seuil from Peter Hobbs’s yard. This gelding was seriously impressive when making his British debut recently at Ffos Las and can give the Nicholls runner most to think about.
Thistlecrack – 1.15pm – Saturday: It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a high-class staying hurdler sent over fences and, after improving his official rating from 150 to 174 last season when carrying all before him, he’s already favourite for this season’s Gold Cup. He put in a foot-perfect display on his chase debut recently and this two-time course winner should take this en-route to better things.
More Of That – 2.25pm – Saturday: The only horse to have ever finished in front of Annie Power and a very high-class horse in his own right. Last season’s novice chase campaign centred solely around Cheltenham. He won his two novice chases with ease at the course and returned during the festival, where he was sent off 6/4f in the RSA Chase, to finish third and was subsequently found to have burst blood vessels in both nostrils. Back in a handicap, albeit a very competitive one, he should really be winning this if they have aspirations of going for the Gold Cup.
Fox Norton – 1.55pm – Sunday: Bought recently by Ann & Alan Potts to race for Colin Tizzard, this son of Lando ran some very nice races last year behind the imperious Douvan. He re-appeared here, at the Showcase Meeting, some weeks ago and was backed as if defeat was out of the question. He was foot-perfect all the way around and will be a big player in all of the good 2-mile races this season.
Winter Escape – 2.30pm – Sunday: The only horse that anyone has been interested in backing this week for the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday is this JP McManus 5-yr-old. The only (apparent) danger is the track as he’s only raced on two flat tracks – Kempton & Doncaster. He has, however, looked very impressive on each occasion and might well be up to taking this. He’ll be a big player in the Champion Hurdle if he does.
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