Cheltenham Reflections

November 18th, 2019 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

They did well to get racing on at Cheltenham over the weekend given the waterlogged state of the track on Friday. A few years ago the meeting would have been lost, but the drainage on racecourses has improved considerably since the old days and the clerks know so much more about land husbandry.

The times show the ground was as described – soft, with heavy patches – but the horses seemed to be coming home well enough, although there did appear to be a bias favouring horses that raced up with the pace.

My colleague Jodie Standing, who was in attendance on Saturday, will be passing on her personal observations in the Weekend Card but Sunday started well when my long-term information for Duc De Beauchene paid off in the opening conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle.

David Pipe had trained the winner of this race on three previous occasions and early-comers would have managed to get 11/2 and a little 6/1 about the eventual 0/30 chance. The booking of Jonjo O’Neill Jnr was a hint in itself and the six-year-old will be raised between 7 and 10lb for this, leaving him on a mark in the mid to high 120s.

It was not a particularly good meeting for Paul Nicholls, with the market weakness in Getaway Trump proving portentous. The six-year-old travelled well into the race but lost his rhythm with a mistake at the second last. He has disappointed on occasions in the past – notably over hurdles at Kelso last March – and it may be that he is a weak finisher. Perhaps he is more suited to better ground.

I was a little disappointed with the ride Barry Geraghty gave Dame De Compagnie in the Greatwood Hurdle until I reminded myself, by looking back at her form, that she won her Listed race here over a further half mile.

The mare lost her place after the third last and was well adrift turning for home before staying on strongly from the final flight to finish with something left to offer.

Nicky Henderson thought she was well handicapped off 132 coming into this race, so with a small drop likely next week she is one to keep in mind for a similar race or, perhaps, something back over two and a half miles.

Alan King had laid out the winner Harambe for the race but there were concerns following a minor setback in his preparation the week before.

My colleague Jodie Standing was very keen on Israel Champ in the closing bumper.

She had nominated the son of Milan for ‘Star Potential’ status in her book and her followers could have got 34 on Betfair the night before. Judging by the comments afterwards connections were not surprised by the result, having been very disappointed with his performance at Worcester last month.

On Saturday Thyme Hill maintained his upward trajectory with a gutsy defeat of Champagne Well in the opener. There isn’t that much of the son of Kayf Tara but what there is of him is all heart.

Happy Diva gave my Online Preview readers a nice winner in the big one but we were probably fortunate, as Slate House was full of running when knuckling over after jumping the second last.

Bye for now