The second and final day of the International Meeting at Cheltenham takes place on Saturday, while there is some good stuff at Doncaster too. Nick Luck has run his eye over the action for us.


NIETZSCHE is the choice in the ITV curtain raiser at Cheltenham on Saturday (1.15pm) at 10/1. In truth, this is a race with quite a few reluctant heroes, and I don’t mind admitting that I very nearly fell for Sky Pirate again, but Brian Ellison’s horse is returning to this track for the first time since beating Silver Streak in the Greatwood, and I am pretty convinced on this season’s evidence that he is capable of winning a nice chase off this mark, particularly dropped to this extended two miles.

BENATAR has to overcome a mighty absence in a seriously hot race for the Caspian Caviar, but two things are beyond doubt: first, he is very well-handicapped on his old form, particularly his third behind Shattered Love at the Festival. Secondly, he has generally run exceptionally well when fresh. Admittedly, this is a different ballgame, but conditions are very much in his favour and at 20/1, he looks quite tempting.

TOOK THE LOT looks a little underrated at 17/2 and can spring a mile surprise in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett trial (2.25pm). There are no issues with his stamina, but he has similarly impressed with the way that he has travelled in two novices around Bangor. On each occasion, he cruised clear of well-regarded rivals, and today’s race may not be quite as hard to win as the high-profile connections suggest.

SILVER STREAK is the percentage call in the International Hurdle (3.00pm). While I would dearly love to see Goshen blast this race apart, it goes against the grain to take short odds about a returning four-year-old (however talented) first time in senior company and with plenty of attendant pace in the race. The selection (7/1) was unlucky in this two years ago and arguably should have finished closer I the Champion Hurdle. Ignoring the non-event at Newcastle, he comes here in peak form with his stable going well, and with a strongly run race at this trip on the more stamina favouring New Course sure to suit.

MIAH GRACE is one of the better bets of the day in the concluding mares’ handicap (3.35pm). She is a really progressive and tough mare who found a very well-handicapped gelding too good last time. The pair were miles clear of the third, who has run really well in a competitive race subsequently, and Miah Grace can offset the small rise in the weight with the hidden class drop back against her own gender at 9/2.


MILANFORD – the ex-pointer – looks potentially ignored in the December Novices Chase at Doncaster (2.05pm). I’ve no reason not to take his 66/1 Exeter chasing debut seriously, when he jumped really well and looked every inch the winner until out speeded by Air du Vent on the run-in. I can’t see an obvious reason why he will not be every bit as effective at this trip and that form (with today’s rival The Mighty Don well beaten in third) more than entitles him to respect here at 9/1.

CLOUD THUNDER is a sporting alternative at 9/1 to the big two in the Summit juvenile hurdle (2.40pm). Put simply, he has Flat form comparable to any of these, comes here unexposed and improving, looks to have the physique for hurdling and his small-but-capable yard has already had a jumps winner this season. Monmiral will be tough to beat, but I didn’t think he looked the finished article on his British debut, and he might have to do it all on the bridle to win again.

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