by JACK MILNER, at BetVictor. PROPER racing is back. No offence to the flat, but the difference is quintessentially men against boys, and the jumps season really kicks off with Cheltenham’s Open Meeting. There’ll be many pointers to the Cheltenham and Aintree spring festivals with a host of superstars in action to set tongues wagging.
Starting with Friday, where Fingal Bay kicks off the meeting with a bang in a star-studded novices chase over 2m 4f. A Grade 2 novices hurdle, won last year by Steps To Freedom, will see the winner shorten for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next March. The same could be said for the Cross Country Chase, also on the opening day of the March festival. Thankfully, you can follow the progression of all the horses on display this weekend and throughout the season on the path to Cheltenham on our Cheltenham Festival 2013 Betting News and Tips microsite; we’re nice like that…!
Saturday: just plain WOW! With the £150,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup being the highlight of a six-race card, quality spans throughout. A Triumph Hurdle trial opens the card, with exciting prospects from the Nicholls, King and Henderson yards. A novice chase sees David Pipe’s Dynaste finally jump a fence in public after apparently delighting the stable with his work at home; he looks to have an exciting future. The 3m 3f Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase looks another thriller, with some potential market moves likely for the Aintree Grand National 2013. Keep an eye on Teaforthree if he runs, he’s a horse with a big future, especially in the Welsh and English Grand Nationals.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup has Grands Crus as a hot favourite and it is easy to see why. His form with Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti looks strong and he looks well in on a mark of 157. The main danger looks to be Walkon, whose record fresh is exceptional, with course specialists Divers and Calgary Bay looking like the other threats at decent each-way prices. A 20-runner handicap hurdle concludes Saturday’s card and there looks to be decent opportunities to pursue if things go pear-shaped early. Well, it’s always nice to have a Plan B!
Sunday is headed by the Racing Post Hurdle, where Darlan from Nicky Henderson’s yard tops the billing and the weights in this Grade 3 handicap. Well punted for owner JP McManus during the week, he is fancied to run well on the path to perhaps bigger and better things. There is a listed bumper, an interesting novice hurdle, as well as further handicaps to sink our teeth into, to round off an excellent weekend of national hunt sport.
Prices for the day’s racing will be up the night before, as well as ante-post markets for all the big Cheltenham Festival races next March. It should be an exciting weekend with plenty of pointers and ante-post market moves.
This is a sponsored post.