2019 Cheltenham Showcase Meetings tips – Five horses to back at Cheltenham this weekend
Our expert takes a look through Cheltenham’s cards on Friday and Saturday and throws up five horses for punters to side with during this year’s Showcase Meeting.
It’s always a momentous occasion whenever Cheltenham racecourse opens its gates and a passionate crowd of National Hunt fans will flock to Prestbury Park at the end of October, as a sea of stars assemble for the two-day Showcase Meeting. Although there are no Graded or Listed prizes on offer on either the Friday or the Saturday, each day often produces winners of big races later in the campaign, even throwing up a clue or two for that season’s Cheltenham Festival.
We’ve taken a look through the early betting for five of the major races at Cheltenham this weekend and picked out five horses for punters to keep an eye on.
2019 Cheltenham Showcase Meeting Tips
25/10/19 2:35pm (Old) squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase (Class 2) 2m
Three of my trackers horses could clash in what promises to be the race of the meeting and I expect all three will progress to the highest level over fences during course of the season. Global Citizen may not have the size and scope you’d expect of a chaser, but he proved himself to be a very classy horse over hurdles and Ben Pauling has been delighted with his schooling over fences. Al Dancer is also an exciting addition to the novice chasing ranks and produced a superb performance to win here at Cheltenham last December.
Both, however, have shown a liking for decent ground during their short careers. A deluge of rain is due to hit Cheltenham on Thursday, with Friday’s card likely to be run during a torrential downpour. This could push the ball into GETAWAY TRUMP’S court and Paul Nicholls’ novice will be the one to side with – should he run, of course.
Nicholls’ charge first caught my eye at Exeter back in December, where he hacked up in stylish fashion on heavy ground to beat some decent rivals by five lengths. Following a runner-up finish in the Challow Hurdle, Getaway Trump’s season threatened to fizzle out. Yet, Nicholls’ charge recover from a terrible showing at Kelso with a fine victory at Ayr, before powering to victory in the big handicap finale at Sandown, carrying top-weight in decisive fashion.
Getaway Trump looked a big chaser in the making last season and I doubt the track at Cheltenham will fill Nicholls with any undue apprehension. If he runs, then I’ll be siding with Getaway Trump on Friday, but I certainly wouldn’t give up on Al Dancer and Global Citizen if either succumb to defeat.
25/10/19 3:45pm (Old) Matchbook Most Trusted Betting Exchange Novices’ Chase (Class 2) 3m½f
With the ground likely to come up on the soft side, I would be surprised if Secret Investor, Go Another One or Potterman were to take their chance. Minella Warrior and Present Ranger have both already been jocked up, but the weather forecast could force their connections to have second-thoughts about running.
Wholestone faced just one rival – who fell two from home – when he won on his chasing debut at Perth. Although his jumping wasn’t perfect, he will relish a return to a track he’s tasted success around plenty of times and soft ground won’t hinder Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge. He could have his work cut out trying to deny DINONS though, and Gordon Elliott’s raider could prove hard to beat.
Like last season, Elliott’s charge has been very busy during the early stages of the season. Dinons has managed to win three of his five starts over fences so far, losing out in a three-miler to Robin De Carlow, before crossing the line third behind the ill-fated Wicklow Brave.
Good ground over two miles was never going to suit Dinons though, who looked full of stamina during his novice hurdling campaign. Elliott’s charge hacked up on heavy ground last time out and enjoyed a successful trip to Cheltenham during last year’s Showcase Meeting, where he won the three-mile Novices’ Hurdle by 15 lengths. Another profitable trip to Prestbury Park is on the cards.
26/10/19 2:00pm Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase (Class 2) 3m1f
Cogry and The Young Master remain extremely competitive at this level, despite their advancing years. Soft ground form could be vital at Cheltenham on Saturday, however, and both prefer a sounder surface. Captain Cattistock leads the early betting, but I’m not sure a long, hard slog on soft ground is something Paul Nicholls’ charge will enjoy.
One who could relish the conditions on Saturday is Colin Tizzard’s WEST APPROACH. Thistlecrack’s half-brother finished third in this race 12 months ago, on good ground which was unlikely to suit and Tizzard’s nine-year-old returns to Cheltenham three pounds lower in the ratings.
West Approach was dropped back to hurdling after a fifth-place finish in the Ladbrokes Trophy last season and managed to follow Paisley Park home in both the JLT Hurdle at Ascot, and the Cleeve Hurdle here at Cheltenham. A disappointing spring campaign followed, with West Approach’s final outing coming over fences at Sandown, where he finished a distant sixth in the bet365 Gold Cup.
Tizzard’s nine-year-old has a good record when fresh and both of his wins over fences came on soft ground. He’s a confirmed stayer over this trip and will return to action running off a highly workable chasing mark. He’s one to keep on-side.
26/10/19 2:35pm Cheltenham (Old) Masterson Holdings Hurdle (Class 2) 2m½f
Coeur Sublime endured an up-and-down juvenile campaign, with that eye-catching runner-up finish to Pentland Hills in the Triumph Hurdle sitting between a series of underwhelming runs. Gordon Elliott’s charge is respect, but I’d rather side with one of the home runners and, while Quel Destin has course-and-distance winning form on his side, TORPILLO has plenty going for him too.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge burst onto the scene with two supremely easy wins in juvenile company last term, winning twice on heavy ground by a combined distance of 45 lengths. Torpillo then clashed with Quel Destin at Haydock, but Tom Bellamy’s mount jumped poorly out at the front of the field and faded rapidly down the home straight.
After ending his season with another lengthy defeat in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, punters were prepared to side against Torpillo as he returned to action at Chepstow last month. Despite drifting out to 3/1 before the off, Nigel Twiston-Davies four-year-old managed to carry top-weight to a fairly convincing victory. Softer ground will only boost Torpillo’s chances and he can build on that impressive Chepstow win with a maiden Cheltenham success on Saturday.
26/10/19 3:10pm (Old) Randox Health Handicap Chase (Class 2) 2m
Paul Nicholls won this with Modus 12 months ago and his duo of Capeland and Brelan D’As currently occupy the top two spots in the ante-post betting. While both make appealing cases, KNOCKNANUSS could be very well-treated running off a mark of 144 and Gary Moore’s charge could be a big player if he takes to the softer going.
Moore’s charge proved himself to be a very useful novice chaser last term, running in three Grade Ones in huge Festivals at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Aintree. Although he failed to feature in any of those races, it was during early months of the season where Knocknanuss was at his most dangerous.
Jamie Moore’s mount bounced back from a heavy fall on his chasing debut – where he was cruising to a lengthy victory at the time he came down – to secure two emphatic triumphs at Fakenham and Newbury, before following the classy Master Dino home over an extended 19-furlong trip at Plumpton. Twice last season, Knocknanuss was awarded an RPR of 158, a mark some 14 pounds higher than the official rating he’ll carry into battle on Saturday. If allowed to dictate the tempo at the front, he can be very hard to stop.