Last weekend was quite good seeing as there were two winners from three runners.
Looking at the races that contain Cheltenham contenders to start as we build-up to the festival in March.
First up is the Betfred "Keep it fun" contenders hurdle, which sees Jollyallan and Bristol De Mai. Both are unbeaten in hurdles races and are open to improvement. Harry Fry has provisionally given Jollyallan two options at Cheltenham depending on this run. He could go for either of the Novices Hurdle with Bristol De Mai having an entry for the Triumph Hurdle. Interestingly Jollyallan also has an entry at Leopardstown on February 8.
In the race Bristol De Mai gets a weight allowance due to only being a four-year-old. Garde La Victorie is the other main contender in the race and has won Graded handicaps so mustn’t be easily discounted; he has an entry into the Champion Hurdle, but isn’t one that I’d expect to run in that race.
Looking into the Scilly Isles Novices Chase (2:25 Sandown) where four of field share provisional entries for the JLT Novices Chase and RSA Chase. Grumeti and Gitane Du Berlais also have entries for the Arkle.
The market looks about right for this race but Grumeti does look too big at 12/1. Champagne West and Irish West won’t be far apart in the finish. Off the same mark for his second to Ptit Zig, Champagne West would be my way to go.
The racing isn’t of the standard of last weekend so finding winners might be difficult if it’s anything like yesterday’s action. Today’s ground will be similarly dead, especially at Ffos Las. Just a warning, that Wetherby will hold an early morning inspection ahead of their meeting.
2:05 Ffos Las
Little Boy Boru (12/1) looks superb each-way value in this quite open Handicap Hurdle that’s known as the Welsh Champion Hurdle. An improving seven-year-old for Suzy Smith who is going up the ratings but has been beaten by some good horses in Tea For Two and Batavir in his last two starts. He won on soft ground under claimer Michael Nolan who rides again today, which is a positive and has won on heavy ground too. Foryourinformation won over track and trip on heavy ground last time out but didn’t look to beat much. Silsol has shown promise at Newbury but disappointed last time out at Cheltenham. Under seven pound claimer Jack Sherwood he could be dangerous. Unexposed A Doll In Milan won impressively by 12 lengths at Wetherby just after Christmas and could improve but again it’s a question if he beat anything of quality that day. William’s Wishes returns to hurdling and lightly raced Oscar Sunset are others to watch.
This Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle also looks a race for value hunters. Current favourite Polamco is seeking a hat-trick, he definitely has a chance but I find that the negative here is that his previous two wins have come under Noel Fehily who is aboard Cadoudoff here. Fehily’s runner has gone up again for another second but I wouldn’t let that put you off as Blue Buttons and Lightentertainment, who won at Cheltenham last week for my blog, have beaten him. Front-runner Hansupfordetroit (14/1) looks another each-way bet. Out of his last nine he has been out of the front two only twice and will relish the ground plus he has won over 3m so the stamina is there. Versatile El Dancer runs for the second time after absence and last time was second to Brandon Hill over 3m after a long layoff. Richard Johnson is likely to give him a patient ride with the number of front-runners in the field.
A Handicap Chase where a number of the field could be argued the winner. A tentative and brief selection for Bertie Boru (7/1) who was second to Unioniste over track and trip last time out and ran on well late. At a bigger price Via Sundown looks back to a suitable mark and one from which he beat Welsh Grand National second Benvolio in February last year. Theatrical Star will win a race of this nature but when is another matter. Course and distance winner in November Le Reve would also be dangerous.
Best of Luck!
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