Katie Walsh: My fancies for this weekend's racing
The Betway ambassador previews the weekend racing at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Sunday at Cheltenham
Oscar Elite is an exciting prospect for Colin Tizzard to go to war with this season. He was second in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival last season and he gets 8lbs on his debut over fences from his rivals. If he’s going to beat them, it’s with these conditions (13:10).
Put The Kettle On was a brilliant winner of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and I think she’ll go very well again (14:20). It’s only a four runner, so no doubt it'll get tactical, but she loves it around here and that counts for so much. She could still be improving, too.
It could be telling that Charles Byrnes is bringing Advanced Virgo over for the Greatwood Hurdle (14:55). It’s such a hot contest again this year but Charles wouldn’t be bringing him over if he didn’t think he could run with credit. He ran well in a Premier Handicap on the flat last time and that would have put him spot on.
Sunday at Punchestown
Call It Magic is a wonderful horse to be associated with and he’s still showing all of his old signs of enthusiasm at home. Ross has been really happy with him of late and his horses are in grand form, too. On his best form, he must have a nice squeak in this (12:00).
We all know how good Enda Bolger is in these types of races and anything he runs should be watched closely. As I say, he’s a master in this field.
The Florida Pearl Chase looks a cracker. I was impressed with the way Vanillier won the Albert Bartlett at the Festival last season. Although he was beaten on his chase debut, he’ll come on plenty for that (12:30).
Noel Mead’s runner Sixshooter is another horse I’m looking forward to seeing in the same race. He was good on his first attempt over fences and will make a lovely staying chaser.
Batcio isn’t straightforward but had a top rider in Davy Russell on his back and that’ll help him plenty. This race (13:00) is worth a lot of money and we know that on his best form, he’s could go well off his mark of 130.
The Morgiana Hurdle is the first real Champion Hurdle trial of the campaign and Echoes In Rain will have to be winning this with her allowance if she’s going to get anywhere near Honeysuckle in this division. She’s second favourite for the Champion Hurdle at the moment as she showed a fair level of form last season.
Saturday at Cheltenham
Magistrato really impressed me on his British debut at Chepstow. I like the way he went about his business and, while it looked as though he might want a bit of juice in the ground, he handled a quicker surface well. This (12:30) will have been his target since that day.
Third Time Lucki has got loads of ability. It’ll be great to see him win (13:40) for the Skeltons as they’ll be plotting a route to the Arkle with the fellow.
Coole Cody won the race last year and, while this is very, very hot renewal, I think he’ll go very well again (14:15). He jumped from fence to fence last year and showed a good liking for this place. He ran well over hurdles on his first start and if he’s in the same form as he was 12 months ago, he could be hard to catch. He was savage that day.
Saturday at Punchestown
With all the great racing on this weekend, we’re going to see some exciting horses. Perhaps the most exciting is Bob Olinger . He was so good at Cheltenham in March and left me thinking he was an aeroplane. He could go right to the top and this is why we love this game. It’s all about finding these next potential superstars. He goes in the 12:00 here.
The Grade 2 novice chase (12:38) looks an exciting contest. There are two horses I can’t split, but I’m looking forward to seeing them both. Cape Gentleman is clearly very good. He’s won a both of his races over fences.
He does have to give plenty of weight away to Riviere D’etel , though, who sluiced up on her first run over fences last month.
The same connections could have another winner with Iberique Du Seuil in the next race (13:13). He wasn't bad on his first start for Gordon Elliot at Galway, but he looked as though he’d learn a lot for that experience. This doesn’t look the deepest race and he can go one better under Davy Russell.
When Willie gets mares in winning form he can keep them improving and that’s what we’re seeing with Purple Mountain . She was very good at Tipperary in a Grade 3 last time and, even though she has to give weight to plenty of these, she could be pretty smart. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do (13:48).
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