WITH less than two weeks to go until the start of the Cheltenham Festival, there is a distinct lack of quality racing on offer this weekend. The Raymond Mould Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (3.10pm) is the feature race, but it has only attracted a field of nine runners.
David Pipe’s Our Vic heads the weights, but I’m not sure the one mile drop in trip from his most recent start will play to his strengths (it’s been two years since he last won over two and a half miles). Panjo Bere and Can’t Buy Time both hold no secrets from the handicapper and I’d far rather take a chance on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ BATTLECRY.
The nine-year-old ran his best race for some time at Wetherby on his latest start on similar rain-softened ground. I expect him to get into a nice rhythm up front with Our Vic and there may well be an opportunity to trade out of the bet on Betdaq before they turn into the straight.
Over at Doncaster and look out for the Alan King trained HURRICANE MILLY in the DBS Spring Sales Bumper tomorrow. The four-year-old daughter of Milan created a real good impression on debut when easily seeing off a decent looking field at Huntingdon last month and is one to keep on the right side of.
The ante-post betting markets on the Cheltenham Festival are really beginning to hot up and hats off to Paddy Power for offering refunds on all losing win bets on the Supreme Novices’ if Dunguib wins. The firm are still offering 11/1 about Menorah and he looks the most likely to cause an upset in my book.
I was at the unveiling of the Cheltenham handicap weights on Wednesday and there was a good word going round for the David Pipe trained THE PACKAGE in the William Hill Trophy on the opening day. He can be backed at 7/1 each-way ? odds the first four places and must go close.
Ferdy Murphy is one of the shrewdest trainers around for these handicaps and he won the Jewson Novices’ Chase with L’Antartique in 2007 who went on to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup the following November. By all accounts he rates this year’s contender THE HOLLINWELL as better than him, so at a general 10/1 he should have a tremendous chance.
Regular readers of this column will remember that I tipped up Quevega to win last year’s David Nicholson Mares Hurdle and Willie Mullins mare is a 5/4 shot with Blue Square for a repeat win. However, I’m keen to take her on at that price and will be having a few quid each-way on the Jessica Harrington trained NO ONE TELLS ME at 10/1 with Paddy Power. She won’t be far away and will appreciate the better ground.
If you are looking to try and win a VIP day out to Cheltenham on St Patrick’s Day courtesy of Guinness, then check out competition details on page 35.
BATTLECRY 3.10pm Newbury, tomorrow
HURRICANE MILLY 4.00pm Doncaster, tomorrow
THE PACKAGE 7/1 e/w William Hill Trophy, Cheltenham
NO ONE TELLS ME 10/1 e/w Mares Hurdle, Cheltenham
THE HOLLINWELL 10/1 e/w Jewson Novices’ Chase, Cheltenham