The culmination of the November Meeting at Cheltenham and another great day is in store with four quality races in front of the ITV cameras. Read on for Nick Luck’s thoughts…


EMPIRE DE MAULDE should take another step up the ladder in Cheltenham’s long distance chase on Sunday (1.45pm) at 9/4. This looks a thin running of this race, but the selection is really progressive and fished out a very smooth beating to some smart rivals at Kelso last time. What impressed was the way he travelled and jumped off a decent pace – something that is guaranteed here with the likable if one-dimensional Yala Enki in the field. I can see The Mighty Don running one of his better races if mistakes don’t put him on the back foot.

NUBE NEGRA (7/4) can get his revenge on Put the Kettle On in the Shloer Chase (2.20pm). If there’s no further rain, conditions should be about perfect for him to shine, as there are few chasers who waste as little time in the air when the ground is decent. He likely spent too much time tracking the wrong horse at the Festival, while a stumble after the last cost him dear. He is open to the most improvement of any of these and I expect this race to set up nicely for him.

JESSE EVANS gets the vote for trainer Noel Meade in the Greatwood Hurdle (2.55pm) at 7/1. The market is being made by horses with very little experience in big field handicaps, but this horse seems to have the perfect blend of youth and experience: still ahead of the handicapper, but with an excellent run in the Galway hurdle under his belt. Look closer, and you’ll see he did by far the best of those ridden off the pace and the form has some serious depth. He’s been kept nicely under wraps for this, with two decent runs on the Flat to tune him up, and he just looks sure to run well.

SONIGINO is the speculative pick at 9/2 in the Novice hurdle (3.30pm). I Like To Move It was good here at the showcase, but it was a clever bit of placing against some overrated juveniles of last year and the yard is not quite in such blistering form now. Washington is a nice prospect, but I worry about him being a bit keen in a small field, while Pikar ran an amazing race on his debut but might have been a little flattered. The form of the selection’s Auteuil win looks nothing special, but he showed a terrific attitude, is clearly in very good hands and should be professional enough to be ridden handy in a potentially tactical race.