Cheltenham & Doncaster Saturday – Analysis Of Feature Races Live on ITV4
ITV4 Selections From Cheltenham’s December Meeting & Doncaster
Cheltenham’s December meeting continues this Saturday as well as action from Town Moor where Doncaster host a competitive seven-race card. There are seven feature contests being screened live on ITV4 across both meetings. We’ve previewed the action and the feature races, delivering our verdicts.
SONIGINO (14:05 bet365 Handicap Hurdle) Doncaster
Most of the field are in tremendous form at present and all have some sort of chance on first viewing. Tommy’s Oscar readily pulled clear of a decent field at Haydock last time out but will have to give plenty of weight away to this field and will struggle to follow up off a 9lb higher mark.
Geromino is seeking a fourth successive win after landing events at Uttoxeter, Sedgefield and last time out at Huntingdon. Donald McCain’s five-year-old is certainly in tremendous form but has a significant rise in class to contend with if he is going to come out on top.
The vote however goes to the unexposed SONIGINO who ran well on British/Stable debut when chasing home Barrichello at Haydock in Listed company to finish third. The four-year-old will have learnt plenty for that opening run and gets a significant weight for age allowance from the main protagonists, and Paul Nicholls can register another win in this contest after Wild Max landed last season’s renewal.
BLAZING KHAL (14:25 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Registered As The Bristol Novices’ Hurdle) Cheltenham
Barony Legends will be looking to follow up on a recent wide-margin win last time out but faces a difficult task now up markedly in grade for the in-form team of Aidan Coleman and Olly Murphy.
Ballygrifincottage is a fascinating contender for Dan Skelton and was last seen landing a hat trick of wins in the point-to-point sphere and any strong market vibes should be noted on his stable debut.
However, this race is likely to centre around Gelino Bello and BLAZING KHAL once more after their previous encounter over 2m5f in the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Both runners battled up the hill but it was ultimately Charles Byrnes’ charge that pulled out more and stayed on resolutely to the line. The five-year-old should be able to give away the 5lb penalty for that success and confirm the running with Paul Nicholls’ runner now racing over an extended 2m7f.
KNIGHT SALUTE (14:40 bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle) Doncaster
The Juvenile hurdle looks competitive and certainly could throw up a few Festival clues for Cheltenham’s showpiece next March. Too Friendly has looked impressive on his first two starts for Dan Skelton but will be facing stiffer competition on Saturday after landing a Newcastle Juvenile Hurdle last time out.
Gary Moore appears to have another smart prospect in the form of Porticello who landed Listed honours at Wetherby on stable debut in October. That was a perfect start to life in Britain for the three-year-old but he didn’t overly impress in the jumping department and will have to be much more street-wise this time around.
Both Impulsive One and Magistrato will have to try and turn the tables on the improving KNIGHT SALUTE once more, who remains unbeaten over hurdles after landing events at Sedgefield and Kempton before quickening away from the field in Grade 2 company at Cheltenham’s November meeting.
Milton Harris has worked wonders with the three-year-old since joining the yard from Andrew Balding and with his juvenile continuing to make rapid progress, he should be tough to beat once more.
SONG FOR SOMEONE (15:00 Unibet International Hurdle) Cheltenham
After two below-par runs over fences, Ballyadam returns over hurdles and back to the scene of his runner-up effort in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind Appreciate It of Wille Mullins at The Festival. The former Grade 1 winner will have to be respected if lining up, however, the six-year-old has failed to win a race since November 2020.
The ultra-consistent Sceau Royal could not record the hat trick when last seen in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth up at Newcastle but Alan king’s charge remains in a rich vein of form and should remain competitive although his last win at this course was back in 2018.
The vote however goes to last years winner SONG FOR SOMEONE who returned to form last time out and is now 1lb below his last winning mark. Tom Symonds’ charge struggled in the early part of the campaign but looked back to his best when finishing second last time out over 2m3f in this company.
Song For Someone showed the benefit of a recent wind operation and layoff when chasing home Buzz in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot and will be better suited by the drop to 2miles on Saturday. That reappearance effort should have him spot-on in his attempt to win his second International Hurdle.
TWO FOR GOLD (15:15 bet365 Handicap Chase) Doncaster
Trainer Kim Bailey landed this contest 12 months ago with Rockys Treasure and he will be hopeful of further success this year from TWO FOR GOLD who is now just 1lb higher than when winning at Warwick in February earlier this year.
There have been valid excuses for his latest defeats as he finished third in Listed company behind the progressive Cloth Cap at Kelso in March and then unseated in a competitive renewal of the Grade 3 Topham at Aintree on his first start on the National circuit.
Two For Gold has an impressive record when returning from a layoff and a bold bid looks assured from Kim Bailey’s charge now back in calmer waters on his seasonal reappearance.
HER INDOORS (15:35 Close Brothers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle) Cheltenham
Indefatigable will look to carry top weight to success now her sights are lowered but she disappointed in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury after being reluctant to jump off.
Last years winning connections are represented this time around by Martello Sky who has recorded three victories in 2021 from just five starts including a Listed course and distance success back in April. However, the handicapper may have her in his grip after going up 18lb in the ratings since the start of the year.
Alan King will be confident of a bold show from HER INDOORS who should strip fitter for a recent fifth in the Listed bet365 Mares’ Hurdle at Wetherby.
The four-year-old filly is untried over this distance and has the stamina to prove but has often indicated that a trip of 2m4f will be well within her range after staying on powerfully to land Listed and Grade 3 Fillies’ Juvenile events at Doncaster and Cheltenham over 2miles.
Her Indoors has leading claims in this contest and it’s worth noting that she has won on her third start after a layoff the last two previous seasons.