Steve Ryder previews five races on a fantastic day of racing on Saturday 16th December. Extended previews of Cheltenham races can be found on the On The Hunt Podcast.
1:55 Cheltenham- Starchitect 6/1 (2pt ew)
Starchitect looked the winner of the BetVictor Gold Cup approaching the second last but he made a mistake. He then got back on terms approaching the last but pecked on landing and couldn’t reel in the winner Splash Of Ginge, eventually going down by a neck in the end. He has been raised 4lb for that effort but that is still 2lb lower than his rating over hurdles so he should still have room to progress off a mark of 148. We know that he enjoys big fields at Cheltenham having placed in the Fred Winter, County Hurdle and the Brown Advisory Plate at the last three festivals. Clan Des Obeaux is very progressive but I would worry that he is 0-3 at Cheltenham and has been beaten at 11/8 and 10/11 at the venue previously. Starchitect looks a rock solid each way bet and at 6/1 I still think it is value. (tipped on SteveRyder13 twitter at 10/1 last week).
2:30 Cheltenham- Count Meribel 2/1 (3pt)
A change in riding tactics has brought out big improvements in Count Meribel this season and he now comes into this race having won all three starts this season. He won a Class 2 novices hurdle last time at Ascot under a double penalty by 8 lengths which was an amazing performance. He was a big price in the week but I still think he is a bet at 2/1 in a depleted field. His main market rival is Equus Secretus who is 2-2 since joining Ben Pauling but the form of his wins does not compete with those of Count Meribel. Hopefully Mark Grant can get an easy lead on Count Meribel and I am sure he will prove hard to pass.
2:45 Doncaster- Act Of Valour 11/8 (1pt)
Act Of Valour was impressive on his debut for Paul Nicholls two weeks ago at Newcastle when winning comfortably by 2 lengths from a John Quinn trained favourite. He was rated 97 on the flat for Michael O’Callaghan and if he can transfer that ability over hurdles he should prove a Grade 1 performer. He jumped really well on his hurdling debut and I think he can beat the Nicky Henderson trained We Have A Dream in this race who made a couple of errors when winning at Warwick.
2:55 Fairyhouse- Golan Lodge 33/1 (1pt ew)
When Golan Lodge is on form he is a very good horse, the problem is that those days are difficult to predict. Golan Lodge beat a well regarded Willie Mullins horse on his debut in a bumper and that horse has shown good form since. He then ran in good maiden hurdles without winning and finished second in this handicap hurdle in 2015 off a mark of 114. He then got off the mark over hurdles at Leopardstown beating Children’s List by ½ length off a mark of 116. Children’s List is now rated 135 over hurdles and 145 over fences so the form of that race is very strong. He struggled off marks of 123 for the rest of the season but has been dropped down to a mark of 115 after a ‘poor’ reappearance. You can be sure that this would have been Golan Lodge’s target and at 33/1 I think he is worth a small each way punt.
3:45 Hereford- Topofthecotswalds 6/4 (4pt)
Topofthecotswalds was sent off favourite for a Towcester bumper a couple of weeks ago having been given a positive talk up from the yard. He raced prominently but didn’t get any cover early on and therefore pulled very hard during the race. He took up the running but looked very inexperienced under pressure late on and eventually faded into 3rd. That experience will have been of huge benefit to him and he should have a big chance in a weaker looking race.
1:55 Cheltenham- Starchitect 6/1 (2pt ew) click here for best odds
2:30 Cheltenham- Count Meribel 2/1 (3pt) click here for best odds
2:45 Doncaster- Act Of Valour 11/8 (1pt) click here for best odds
2:55 Fairyhouse- Golan Lodge 33/1 (1pt ew) click here for best odds
3:45 Hereford- Topofthecotswalds 6/4 (4pt) click here for best odds
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