When you see there’s racing at Cheltenham, you know the jumps season is well and truly underway! The ITV cameras are on hand to bring us NINE races on Saturday, including four of the key races on the Cheltenham card, plus the pick of the action from Doncaster and Newbury.
Below, we talk you through our selections for all nine ITV races on Saturday afternoon, including our tip for the sole Group 1 race – the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster. Check those out below, alongside today’s best bets – which are free to view on-site now.
*Odds Correct at time of posting – 3:30pm Friday 21st October*
Lord Of Biscay (1.50 Newbury) – 11/2
Plenty in here look destined to become stars next year, but the one who stands out for us is LORD OF BISCAY. Roger Varian’s colt is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Bayside Boy and made an impressive debut when winning at Yarmouth.
He travelled strongly throughout his debut, and could be called the winner over a furlong out. The runner-up Obelix has since gone out and bolted up to win next time out to give the form a nice boost.
This race has seen some stars come out of it in recent years, including Group 1 winner Mohaather (2018) and last year’s winner Light Infantry (2021). This years is likely to throw up a host of future winners, and we’re banking on Lord Of Biscay following up his impressive debut to make it 2/2 in his career.
The Hollow Ginge (2.05 Cheltenham) – 10/3
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies often targets this race, with form of 123P2 in the last five renewals, including last year’s runner THE HOLLOW GINGE finishing second off a mark of 137 to Gordon Elliott’s Definite Plan. He returns for another crack at the race off a 10lb lower mark, and he’s more than capable of making a winning reappearance in this, considering his excellent record after a break.
When off the course for 180 days or longer, his record reads 2U121 (2-5), and he returns here off his lowest chase rating of his career. Receiving weight off all but one of his rivals (who is also running off 10-13) can be a big plus to his chances over this stamina-sapping trip, and although he’s been pulled up in two of his last three, the long break will hopefully see him to best effect.
He’s been heavily backed in the betting all week and looks set to go off as favourite. Gordon Elliott has two in the race, and Tullybeg looks to be one of the main dangers to the selection after his game win at Wexford last time out. But this is all about The Hollow Ginge, who seems to have everything in his favour.
Hamish (2.25 Newbury) – 8/11
This should really be HAMISH’s for the taking. William Haggas’ gelding has by far the best form in here and is more than capable of landing a double this month.
He’s only had three races this year, winning two and finishing less than a length behind Kyprios in the Irish St Leger. Kyprios has since won another Group 1 in France to frank that form and Hamish came out and won his next race, when comfortably on top in the G3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
Tom Marquand has been on board for Hamish’s first victory this season, and has a solid 23% strike-rate when riding at Newbury this year, so his booking is a positive to our selections chances. He’s been well found in the market and looks set to go off as an odds-on favourite, but that just shows how clear he is of his rivals. This is all about Hamish and connections will be disappointed if he fails to win.
Pied Piper (2.40 Cheltenham) – 1/1
Seen as a rematch between Pied Piper and Knight Salute, this should be a cracker of a race. However, we can only see one outcome – PIED PIPER should really be winning this.
Although Knight Salute dead-heated with Pied Piper at Aintree back in April, Milton Harris’ runner was well beaten on his last attempt at Cheltenham, finishing a distant ninth in the Triumph Hurdle. Pied Piper was much closer that day in third and had previously bolted up in the Triumph Hurdle Trial race here back in January. In our opinion he’s by far the better horse out of the two and he can confirm that on Saturday.
The other three in here don’t have the same level of form as the top two in the betting, so Knight Salute looks the best option to chase the selection home. Because of the lack of depth in this race, the Pied Piper/Knight Salute forecast could be a good bet here, but for win purposes we’re all over the Gordon Elliott runner.
Aesop’s Fables (3.00 Doncaster) – 11/8
In the last eight years, trainer A P O’Brien has had one runner in this race – Call Me Teddy, who ran a cosy winner of the race in 2020, and he has an excellent chance of having another winner with AESOP’S FABLES.
Set to go off as clear favourite, he should take all the beating. Since winning at Navan on debut, he went out and won the G2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh, before finding Group 1 company too hot at the Curragh and Newmarket. This is a huge drop in class and considering how easily he won in Group 2 company in August, he really should be winning this without even needing to hit top gear.
His rivals don’t have the same level of form, with stablemate Hispanic a potential improver after bolting up at the Curragh last week. However, he would have to improve at a rate of knots to get the better of Aesop’s Fables, who should be far too good for his rivals here.
Clear The Runway (3.15 Cheltenham) – 3/1
CLEAR THE RUNWAY has been a revelation since going chasing, winning five of his seven races and only beaten by a maximum of half a length in his other two. He seems to be getting better with each race and looks to have a great chance here.
Three of his wins have come on good ground so that won’t be an issue, and his most recent run he bolted up in class 2 company so is capable in this grade. The runner-up Elios D’Or was ten lengths back that day, but has since come out and won his next race to give the form a welcome boost.
El Borracho comes here seeking a four-timer after three convincing wins recently, and looks the biggest danger to the selection. But this is Clear The Runway’s for the taking, and he can continue his excellent start to chasing with a sixth victory from just eight races over fences.
Auguste Rodin (3.35 Doncaster) – 1/1
Trainer A P O’Brien has a superb record in the race – winning it ten times, including three of the last five renewals, and AUGUSTE RODIN can give him yet another winner in this year’s renewal.
He would’ve won on debut if he didn’t have to wait for room and switch when making his run, but the winner has since won in G2 company so the form is still solid enough. Since that debut runner-up, he ran out a comfortable winner at Naas before stepping in group company and landing the G2 Champions Juvenile Stakes. He found plenty that day when asked for his effort and never looked like losing once he got his head in front.
Of the rest, Epictetus and Holloway Boy have some solid form to their names and can chase home Auguste Rodin (in that order), but A P O’Brien’s colt should confirm his class and can ensure his trainer becomes the overall leading trainer in the race.
The Real Whacker (3.50 Cheltenham) – 16/1
Pertemps Qualifiers are a nightmare to predict, but one we think could run well at a price is THE REAL WHACKER. Ann Duffield’s lightly raced runner has only had three races, but in that time has won over this distance and placed in a Grade 2. That is some of the best form on offer here, and having won off a break in the past, he is capable of a big performance on seasonal reappearance.
He impressed enough when winning at Carlisle in December last year for connections to pit him in the Grade 2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle. He didn’t disappoint either, finishing just two lengths behind the winner Mahler Mission. Gavin Sheehan has been booked for the ride here, and that’s a positive considering the red-hot form he’s in currently (4 winners from his last 12 rides).
The trouble with these Pertemps Qualifiers is the majority don’t even want to win, and would sooner just finish in the top four to qualify. But the smaller yards will still want to win this for the prize money, and Ann Duffield has a solid chance with The Real Whacker. We would advise backing each way just to be safe though, with some bookies paying up to six places.
Vintage Clarets (4.10 Doncaster) – 17/2
This is an open handicap, and there’s plenty in with a chance. None more so than VINTAGE CLARETS, who has gone close in his last two and deserves to get his head in front.
Since returning from a short break over the summer where he had a gelding operation, he’s won at Windsor, failed to handle the step up to 6f in the Ayr Silver Cup, before a couple of runner-up efforts at York and Catterick. He was beaten by Kimngrace at York earlier this month, but is now 6lb better off with that rival and can reverse that form. He then only found Chipstead too good in the Catterick Dash, but lost nothing in defeat to that progessive rival.
Count D’orsay is down a tempting mark and has run well in his last couple of races, but it’s been over two years since he won a race and he’s finished behind Vintage Clarets in his last two, so we’d sooner be with the Richard Fahey runner.
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