Saturday at Cheltenham

I’m not sure how much racing will be on this weekend. The temperatures have really dropped, and grounds are going to be frozen on both sides of the Irish sea.

The Triumph Trial (12:05) is the first race on the card at Cheltenham if it survives the cold snap. There doesn’t look to be a great deal between all of these but the fact that Nusret gets 3lb off Scriptwriter makes him the one to side with. He did it really well on his debut for Joseph at Punchestown and the fact he’s bringing him here might suggest he wants to give him some course experience.

It would be disappointing if Monmiral  couldn’t come home in front in this three-runner race (12:40). He ran well behind Jonbon at Warwick and there’s nothing of his calibre here.

Fergal O’Brien is having some time of it. It’s brilliant see him notch up a great tally of winners and I think Gumball   might be able to give him another (13:15). He ran very well at Ascot last time but didn’t see his race out so he’s had a wind-op since. If that’s made a difference, I expect him to be competitive.

Il Ridoto  ran really well in a course-and-distance race here last month and can go well again (13:50). It’s a tough ask for five-year-olds to win these competitive handicaps, but we know how much of a master his trainer Paul Nicholls is. He could be a graded horse in a handicap.

Nicky Henderson has had some great two-milers over the years and Epatante  is another. I’d love to see her win the International (14:25). She’s a strong travelling mare and getting 5lb off the younger horse who won the Greatwood should be enough to see her come home in front.

Thomas Mor  really impressed me when he won at Wincanton last time. I know he was odds-on and it wasn’t a race of this class, but he seemed to stay really well and I think he’s a smart horse in the making. He can go well here (15:00).

Sunday at Punchestown and Cork

On Sunday, it looks as though Cork will be on and be the headline card. It’s still frozen here at home and we’re not far from Punchestown.

If Punchestown did go ahead, there are two horses on the card I’m looking forward to seeing.

The first is Deeply Superficial, a mare of Gordon’s. She’s two from two in her career and I loved the way she went about her business last time. I think she’s got a big future in the mares’ division and has a good chance here (13:30).

The other horse is the one I think we’re all looking forward to seeing (14:00), Galopin Des Champs. He was faultless last year, bar not getting the landing right at Cheltenham, when he would have routed them in the Turners Chase. He’s very good and is one of the most exciting horses in training.

At Cork, I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of horses from Henry de Bromhead’s yard. The first one is Arctic Bresil, who was second in a point-to-point last year and went into many notebooks with that performance. He could be smart (12:45) based on his second that day.

Hiddenvalley Lake is the other (13:15). I think he’ll really be suited by the step up in trip. He won well last time and I think after that success he'll be in good form here. It could be a good day for Henry and Rachael.

Energumene is the reigning Betway Queen Mother Champion Chaser and after seeing Shishkin underperform last weekend, it looks as though he could be a dual winner of that showpiece race in March if he gets there sound. He’s a top class horse, who knows how to win, and I think he’ll show us that in the Hilly Way this weekend.

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