Lingfield would seem an odd place to look for Cheltenham Festival clues. It’s best known for all-weather racing, a variant of the sport that it is an acquired taste. But for a course so close to London, Lingfield is a pretty setting and Saturday is one of its biggest days of turf racing.
The Totesport Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase has been transferred from Ascot and for punters looking for a Royal & SunAlliance pointer that is all to the good. Ascot is right-handed and flat. Lingfield, like Cheltenham, is left-handed and undulating. The Listener has been a fancy for the Festival since winning well in a valuable novice event on his seasonal debut at Exeter and can confirm his status near the top of the Royal & Sun market.
On the same card, the winner of Ascot Chase is unlikely to be the winner of the Gold Cup. A winner over 2½ miles here needs speed, to win over 3½ at Cheltenham takes stamina. It is hardly surprising that one of the Gold Cup favourites, Monkerhostin, has given the race a swerve. Fondmort is the horse to back today and those with the Cheltenham showpiece in mind should note the performance of Take the Stand.
Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle has been a decent trial for the Champion Hurdle but this is a sub-standard renewal. Last week, Natal was opposed in the frozen-off Totesport Handicap Hurdle at Newbury, but this could be an ideal opportunity for this very good novice to claim a decent prize. Royal Shakespeare, the likely favourite, was lucky at Sandown when Fiepes Shuffle fell at the last with the race in the bag.
■The Investor’s selections:
Lingfield 12.55 –
The Listener (win)
Haydock 1.40 –
What A Native (win)
Wincanton 3.05 –