FEWER sights were more uplifting last season as GODSMEJUDGE soaring over the last few fences at Ayr to win the Scottish National. It was some performance for a novice chaser who had been on the go since the previous October and who had already run some mighty races. Alan King’s chaser looks a ready-made Grand National horse but the trainer has no intention of wrapping him in cotton wool until the spring. Godsmejudge did me so many good turns last season that I’ve got to stay loyal to him in the 3m 3f staying chase on Saturday’s second day of the Cheltenham Open meeting.
He may well need the race and this is a competitive affair with the likes of Bet365 Gold Cup winner Quentin Collonges and Goulanes in the field. But Wayne Hutchinson, who keeps the ride on Godsmejudge, gets a good tune out of the seven-year-old and the partnership should give a good run for your money.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the highlight of the three-day Open meeting and has been dealt with elsewhere on the site. KUMBESHWAR has been singled out as excellent each-way value at 33/1. Read the full race preview here.
The other supporting races are superb. I was at Wetherby when ROYAL IRISH HUSSAR trounced a strong field in a Listed hurdle the other day and he should follow up in the Grade Two juvenile hurdle that kicks off the day. Herod The Great is improving and may be one for the forecast.
The 3m novice chase is another cracker and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of these returned for the RSA Chase in March. I loved the way LE BEC went about his business at Uttoxeter and he is marginally preferred to Shutthefrontdoor and African Gold.
EDMUND KEAN is a lovely young horse and I would not be surprised if he is the subject of a classic David Pipe plot in the staying hurdle. He would prefer it softer but he has got a proper engine and he is one to put in the notebook regardless of what happens today.
CREEPY ran a bit keen last time and if he settles better he looks a solid each-way bet in the eight-runner novice hurdle, while Alan King thinks a lot of BULL AND BUSH and she should run a big race in the mares’ bumper on ground that she will really like.
One horse catches the eye at Wetherby: IMJOEKING is highly thought of by Lucinda Russell and makes his chasing debut. He should take all the beating if his jumping is up to scratch.