By News Team
12th November 2020
The ITV cameras are back at Cheltenham for their big three-day November meeting which looks set to be an absolute cracker.
Tiger Roll is the star attraction on Friday as he makes his National Hunt return in the Cross Country Chase, but Nick Luck fears he might have to play second fiddle again. Here are his thoughts on the four live ITV races from Prestbury Park.
ON THE SLOPES is in danger of becoming a personal obsession, but even a rational mind can see that the first TV race (at Cheltenham on Friday 1.50pm) looks a good spot for him at 10/3. I confess to being a bit disappointed with his comeback, but he improved through last season and might need a run or two to get him to concert pitch. Still, he shaped second best behind the super-impressive Rouge Vif and I would expect him to hold those who ran against him that day. A bigger danger might be Fanion d’Estruval, who was very taking at Newbury on his British debut last season.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ MOSSY FEN comes out best at the weights in the Novice Chase (2.25pm) and gets another chance at 5/1. Although he jumped out quite markedly to his right on his chasing debut here, he was not making errors as such, and that trait worsened as he got tired. He shaped significantly better than the margin he was beaten by and this drop back in trip may suit. He was the best of these over hurdles and receives eight pounds from Southfield Stone, who may not be open to as much improvement, while Protektorat faces much better opposition than at Carlisle.
VINO ROYALE is worth a small each-way play at 14/1 in a race where his stable companion EASYSLAND is almost impossible to oppose at 4/6. This might be the best Cross-Country handicap (3.00pm) ever run, and the way in which Easysland demolished the legend that is Tiger Roll here in March was one of the most striking performances of the whole Festival. But you won’t get rich backing him, and even though Vino Royale is miles out of the handicap there’s just a chance that the handicapper has absolutely no idea how good he is, as his Cross Country form in the French Provinces is so hard to assess. Given his pedigree, connections and proven enthusiasm for this discipline, however, plus the booking of Sam Twiston-Davies, you would have to take an interest at a price.
GRAND MOGUL needs to improve again to take the novices’ hurdle (3.35pm) but might be able to take advantage of the three pounds he receives from Does He Know, who was admittedly impressive here last time. Nicky Henderson’s runner at least coped with the softer surface at Chepstow last time, while we’re not sure how Does He Know will adapt to more give in the ground. Given their respective campaigns to date, you would also imagine the selection is open to a bit more progress at 11/4 and his sound thrashing of a well-regarded rival was quite taking.