Cheltenham November Meeting Tips – Key Entries for Paddy Power Gold Cup and Greatwood Hurdle

The Shunter (right) on his way to Greatwood Hurdle success in last year's renewal.The Shunter (right) on his way to Greatwood Hurdle success in last year's renewal.

Cheltenham November Meeting Key Entries

With the jumps season now in full swing, Cheltenham’s November meeting looms over the horizon. Yesterday, the entries for the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle were released and here we preview those who have caught our eye from each of these handicaps.

PROTEKTORAT (Paddy Power Gold Cup, Saturday 13th November)

The current antepost favourite is PROTEKTORAT for Dan Skelton. He won the novice chase over course and distance at this meeting a year ago, but really hit new heights at the end of last season. After successive runner-up finishes over the winter, he stormed to victory in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices Chase at the Grand National meeting. Despite that top grade success, he’s only had his mark raised by 4lbs and his performance at Cheltenham 12 months ago clearly remains sharp in bookmakers’ minds.

LALOR (Paddy Power Gold Cup)

Changes of stable can often cause unease, but when a horse as talented as LALOR moves to a yard like Paul Nicholls’ then it’s worth taking note. He has only seen a racecourse four times in the last two years and was pulled up on his most recent two starts. However, if his change of home revitalises him, his ability is obvious, having won the Grade 2 Arkle Trial at Cheltenham as a novice, while also being beaten under a length on his last pair of starts at Prestbury Park.

Lalor could make his debut for Paul Nicholls

COOLE CODY (Paddy Power Gold Cup)

Such is the strength of the entries for the Paddy Power Gold Cup that Last year’s winner COOLE CODY is not yet guaranteed his place in the field. That said, a few will likely drop out and Evan Williams’ ten-year-old would be primed for another big run. He’s only 4lbs higher than last year’s winning mark. In that time, he was fourth in the Paddy Power Plate at the Festival off 2lbs higher and returned with a promising run over hurdles last month. He should strip fitter now and would be poised to go close again.

ESKYLANE (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, Sunday 14th November)

The Irish contingent for this year’s Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is significant with eight of the top 20 in the weights. ESKYLANE was fifth in the 2020 Champion Bumper at the Festival in what proved an extremely strong renewal of that race. Things did not immediately click over hurdles despite a debut victory in this sphere.

However, he has put it together more recently, returning with a good fourth in a competitive handicap at Listowel and then winning in impressive fashion at Down Royal. His mark has taken a huge hike with British handicappers wary of threats across the Irish Sea, but Gordon Elliott has often run his horses at Cheltenham’s autumn meetings.

CAMPROND (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle)

Five-year-olds have a good recent record in the Greatwood, winning every renewal between 2016 and 2018. Two more filled the places behind Harambe in 2019 and CAMPROND looks the pick of this age group here. He has improved tremendously over the summer, winning four times since March, including his last two. One of those came in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices Hurdle at Chepstow with a follow-up at Cheltenham two weeks ago. His mark of 140 may underestimate Philip Hobbs’ improving youngster, especially with his yard making a fast start to the season.

WINTER FOG (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle)

Another who will need a few withdrawals, but WINTER FOG is a fascinating entry for last year’s winning connections. Emmet Mullins plotted the perfect season for The Shunter to win this race and a bonus at the Cheltenham Festival and may have similar plans for this horse, who joined him only last week.

Of Winter Fog, we know he won his maiden at Limerick in March, but has limited other form. Neither had The Shunter prior to joining Mullins and though Winter Fog has done nothing to earn his mark of 134, The Shunter ended his season rated 146 over hurdles and 153 over fences. If he improves at the same rate, a repeat is distinctly possible.