An exceptional card down at Cheltenham this afternoon, and a good one closer to home at Wetherby. I won’t be at either today, I’m saving myself for the big one, which is Catterick next Friday.
Let’s take a look at the card at Cheltenham first….
The opener down at Cheltenham has a couple of very interesting, unexposed horses at the top of the market, who really could be anything. It’s never the best betting strategy though to be betting unexposed horses, especially those first time up in this country like the Henderson horse, who will likely be the favourite. A bit further down the list you’ll see Cracker Factory, a consistent horse who has done nothing wrong so far in his career.
His best run to date certainly came last time out. I was at Wetherby the day he won the listed race and he won with plenty in hand, eventually beating a Gordon Elliott raider by seven lengths. For Mr Elliott to bring that one over, he must have thought it was good enough, and back in third was a Skelton horse who had previously impressed at the same course in October. I think the form stacks up well for Cracker Factory, and while he could be up against something special today, he does seem over priced at around 7/1 to me.
I’ve liked The Worlds End for a very long time, and while he is no betting proposition today, I am extremely excited about his future. I think he will go on to win the RSA at Cheltenham in March, before aiming for the Gold Cup next season, he really could be that good over fences.
When I find a Northern raider in with half a chance at a big meeting, I feel obliged to mention them here. Looking Well stays all day long, and there is a question mark as to whether this trip of almost three and a half miles will be long enough for him. He’s on a mark he can win off and was incredibly unlucky in the Edinburgh National off three pounds lower than this in February when unseating his rider. There will be some that don’t get home over this trip, and I can just picture him motoring up the hill past beaten horses to nick a place, I hope that is the case anyway. At around the 14/1 mark he is worth a small play I think.
I’m a big fan of two horses in this race, at opposite ends of the market but I think both of them will run well. Mister Whitaker is a horse I have thought a lot of and this has clearly been his target since winning at the Festival last season. He comes here on the back of three wins on the bounce, two at this track last season and an impressive reappearance at Carlisle two weeks ago. I’m sure Mick Channon will have left a bit to do since the Carlisle run, and he should be spot on today. I picture him running in something like the Ryanair at the festival, and he looks to hold every chance here.
I was strong on the chances of Guitar Pete at Wetherby at the start of this month, but unfortunately the ground was too lively for him to do himself justice. What I said for that race applies here really, he is on a mark he can win off, he likes the hustle and bustle of a big field and he should go really well, even more so with the ground being a little softer for him. He finished 9th in this last season, but was badly hampered near the start of the race by a faller and could never really get into the race after that.
Mister Whitaker is 7/1 and Guitar Pete is 25/1, I fancy both to run well.
Another horse I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for is Becky The Thatcher, but she looks to have a great opportunity here. Last November she recorded a win over hurdles at this course off a mark of 122, going away to win by nearly four lengths. Today she returns to Wetherby, and guess what, she comes here off a mark of 122. She’s a gutsy mare, she will give it everything she has and she looks to have a huge shout back at this mark. She weakened away tamely last time out, you can put a line through that, she clearly wasn’t right that day. She’s around the 11/2 mark and looks to be a big player in this one.
I had Cracking Find marked down as a winner in waiting on the blog when he finished third behind Born Survivor and Guitar Pete in a listed race here at the start of the month. At the time I said that race was a little too hot, but to keep a close eye on this horse as he was more than capable of winning off his current mark. He’s actually been lowered a pound for that, which is bizarre, but I’m convinced that today is the day for him. He’s not the biggest price in the world, but this is a level he can win in, and a mark he can win off. In March and April this year he won off 122 and 125, he’s been highly tried since then, but returns to a suitable grade here, and the mark of 128 is something he can win off. He’s only 13/8, but looks to have been found a nice opportunity here.
I don’t bet in two runner fields, and I won’t be changing that here. However, I do think that we will see the best of Ravenhill Road over fences and if you get the chance to watch this race he is certainly worth watching to see how he jumps. He could go on to be one of the leading novice chasers in the north this season.
All the best with your punting this afternoon!