The cold snap has taken its toll on the racing of late, but the best of the weather has been in the west so Cheltenham should survive. Hallelujah. Most cards at jumping’s HQ are top-notch and all are strewn with clues to the Festival in March. Saturday’s is no exception. Perhaps the biggest pre-Christmas treat is the reappearance of the champion hurdler, Sublimity. There are also some novice chasers to keep an eye on with the Arkle and Royal & SunAlliance in mind come March 2008.
However, the biggest betting race of the day is the Boylesports.com Gold Cup. Handicaps at Cheltenham are always wide open and this is no exception. Paul Nicholls has been scooping all the big prizes this season and it is no surprise to see his New Little Bric at the top of the betting markets. To these eyes, however, his form looks suspect, especially as this is only his second start outside novice company.
Old boy Palarshan is the each-way bet. He loves it at Cheltenham. He has won the Grand Annual and ran a blinder when placed in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month. Stick with the champ, Sublimity, in the Boylesports.com International Hurdle. This horse is 2/1 for this race and 4/1 for a repeat in the Champion Hurdle. Take the latter bet because if he wins as expected today his price will half.
In the novices’ chase Tidal Bay is probably the best horse in the field. However, it makes sense to side with Duc De Regniere who benefits from a handy 8lbs weight allowance.
2:05 Cheltenham: Duc de Regniere (win)
2:40 Cheltenham: Palarshan (each-way)
3:10 Cheltenham: Sublimity (win)