By News Team
Last Updated: 10th December 2020
The ITV cameras return to Cheltenham on Friday with some great action to look forward to as well as showing a race from Bangor. Here are Nick Luck’s thoughts and fancies for the six races.
EVERLANES is an interesting each-way proposition in the mares’ chase that kicks off ITV’s Friday coverage at Cheltenham (1.15pm). I’ve seen few horses jump with her fluency at Taunton last year in race that worked out well, and I was convinced she would progress nicely. That proved to be the case, but the wheels have fallen off a bit this season. A recent breathing operation suggests that a reason for that has been found and that, combined with a drop in distance and a gentle slide in her handicap mark, makes her a bet at 12/1.
KALASHNIKOV is my idea of the rescheduled Peterborough Chase (1.50pm) winner at 4/1. In all honesty, just about any of these could win this, but Amy Murphy’s stable star shaped really encouragingly in a pipe-opener over hurdles behind Main Fact at Haydock, suggesting all his ability was intact. These look just about his ideal conditions and, if his perfect preparation enables him to run as well as he did when lumping top-weight at Newbury last year, he will be a formidable opponent for any of these.
COURT MAID looks a solid favourite in the staying handicap (2.25pm) at 9/4. A revelation over fences last season, she travelled so sweetly in a big field at Fairyhouse last time that she will not be perturbed by neither the rhythm of a race round here, nor a decent test of stamina. The lowly weighted duo Storm Control and Commodore both had hard races on soft ground last time, while Black Corton would be a big danger if you thought that he was in peak form, but concession of 10 pounds to the selection is no easy task.
BEAU DU BRIZAIS can make a weight pull with Kingswell Theatre tell in the Cross Country race (3.00pm). I was very taken with how well he jumped on his first try over these fences, and he should be able to improve a bit off that effort at 6/1. The ground may be a little better this time, which will only help him, and his trainer has long had a good record in these races.
COSTWOLD WAY – also from the Philip Hobbs stable – can take a really competitive handicap hurdle (3.35pm), and give Micheal Nolan a double in the process at 9/1. This horse caught the eye here at the showcase meeting on his first try at the trip before finding a drop back around Kempton a bit sharp (ran well nonetheless). There’s plenty of pace on here, which he should appreciate, and I think he’s ready to run a huge race with his stable going much better.
POKER PLAY might be the answer to an odd little handicap hurdle (2.05pm) at Bangor. Robin Gold is the most obvious one, but I’m not sure I want short odds in a four horse about a horse who is clearly best coming off a decent gallop. The selection, while out of form, is now starting to look dangerously handicapped and might be the lone speed in the race, which should be ideally suited to this track at 9/2.