The racing broadcaster has five selections for Saturday including three from Prestbury Park, a Kameko Futurity pick at Doncaster and one more at Chelmsford.
The final Group 1 of the Flat season and the return of the Grand National winner over jumps are the headline acts this Saturday. Corach Rambler’s early return to action is a big boost to the card at Kelso but the fate of the Kameko Futurity is very much in the hands of the weather gods with an 07:30 morning inspection.
KAMEKO FUTURITY STAKES
In recent seasons, the race (Doncaster, 14:10) has proved an excellent pointer to future Classic winners, with five of the last six victors going on to Classic glory and the odd one out, Luxembourg, also proving top-class.
If it does beat the weather then the ground will be pretty desperate, which could play into the hands of the big, pounding action of ANCIENT WISDOM SP, who recorded a dominant win on soft ground at Newmarket in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes. Surprisingly, there has not been a single Godolphin juvenile Group 1 runner domestically this season and this will be the last chance they have to get off the mark.
With the uncertainty over Doncaster, the betting action this weekend focuses more on jumping and, specifically, at Cheltenham, where ITV will cover four races on the main channel. While the rain has been the scourge of the Flat tracks, it has made to a more competitive start to the jumps season with perfect jumping ground and big fields.
At this time of the year there is always the crossover between those that have fitness on their side from summer jumping but quite often have handicap marks that have been inflated by winning shallow races. Conversely, it is still early days for those beginning their winter campaigns and not all will be fully wound-up with their main targets further down the road.
Paying close attention, therefore, to yards whose horses seem well forward is often a good strategy and those of Sam Thomas, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Emma Lavelle and Kim Bailey are ones that seem to fit the bill so far this season.
It is one of those stables – Emma Lavelle – that provides the first selection with RED ROOKIE 11/2 in the opener (Cheltenham, 13:15). He has always been highly thought of and ran well for a long way in last year’s Arkle before coming down late on.
Six of the 18 horses that the stable have run off an absence of more than 120 days so far this jumps season have won, with another three making the frame, so hopefully he will be more forward than most including likely favourite Haddex Des Obeaux who is the one with the most potential in the field. He was forced to miss the Festival because of a setback and may just be vulnerable first time back.
BOIS GUILLBERT 10/1 each-way looks the best way to attack the Masterson Hurdle (Cheltenham, 13:50). Blueking Doroux improved after a breathing operation and ran well at Aintree last season but, prior to that, had run pretty deplorably twice and looks worth taking on.
Bois Guillbert would need to improve again but won well enough at Kelso on his return, posting a career best, and has that run under his belt. If Blueking Doroux does fluff his lines then it leaves the race wide open, and even if he doesn’t, then he can still make the frame.
Another each way selection is ESPOIR DE ROMAY 14/1 in the Pertemps Qualifier (Cheltenham, 15:00). A single moment can change the whole course of a horse’s career, and this was the case with Kim Bailey’s horse who was on the verge of a Grade 1 success over fences when coming down two out at Aintree 18 months ago.
He couldn’t come close to repeating the feat and seemed to lose his confidence and appetite for chasing, but he has a much lower mark over hurdles and placed on his last two outings of last season. Kim Bailey has had four winners and six placed horses from 15 runners in October and Espoir De Romay has the back class to figure.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
LADY BRACKEN SP looks to have been found a good spot (Chelmsford, 19:30) to get off the mark under promising apprentice Archie Young (career record of 9/58 with an actual/expected ratio of 1.31).
She is certainly not the fastest but has stuck to the task well on her last two runs, including at Musselburgh last time off the same mark she races off here.
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
We have a couple of jump jockeys riding at tracks where they have a particularly good record on Saturday:
- Cheltenham – Nico de Boinville (43/262, A/E 1.30)
- Kelso – Ryan Mania (66/396, A/E 1.40)
RED ROOKIE 11/2 (Cheltenham, 13:15)
BOIS GUILLBERT (EW) 10/1 (Cheltenham, 13:50)
ANCIENT WISDOM 6/5 (Doncaster, 14:10)
ESPOIR DE ROMAY (EW) 14/1 (Cheltenham, 15:00).
LADY BRACKEN SP (Chelmsford, 19:30)